F.B.I. raids Scarborough’s office

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William Scarborough. (Jessica Alaimo)
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ALBANY—Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the Albany office of Assemblyman William Scarborough this morning, he confirmed to reporters.

Scarborough, a Queens Democrat, said the F.B.I. asked questions about the per diem reimbursements that legislators collect for each day they spend in the Capitol. Agents took papers from his offices in Albany and Jamaica, and also accosted him in his hotel room this morning.

”I'm innocent, but I understand the reality,” Scarborough said to a group of reporters who, hearing rumors, flocked to his office on the sixth floor of the Legislative Office Building. “I don't know what's going to go on. I am going to talk to a lawyer, this is just stunning to me.”

Scarborough said the agents showed up at his hotel room at 5:45 this morning, and took “a whole litany of things,” including his smartphone. 

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“I do not believe that they will find anything in any of those locations that will verify any illegality or be incriminating,” he said. 

A spokeswoman for the F.B.I. confirmed the raid but said the office is not releasing any further details at this time.

Scarborough received $59,085 in per diem payments between 2010 and 2011. He submitted voucher payments claiming $825 for five nights in Albany from March 13th to March 17th 2011, while public records showed he attended a town meeting at York College in Jamaica Queens that Thursday.

“I may very well have gone to that meeting, turned around and gone back to Albany that night,” Scarborough told the New York Post in 2012. “If we arrive in Albany before midnight, we’re entitled to put in for the night.”

The Assembly doesn't require members to submit hotel receipts and Scarborough told the Post he would not look for them.

“I don’t think I have to give you proof,” he said at the time.

On Wednesday, Scarborough said the F.B.I. visit was the result of a “tabloid hit job.”

Scarborough said agents mentioned the possibility of others being involved or indicted, then quickly walked the statement back. 

“What I was told was there might be indictments and I would not be one of them. When I spoke with people here they seem to have tempered that statement, so I have no idea," he said.

When asked for clarification, Scarborough said, “That was the implication, I can only tell you the implication based on the conversation.”

It has been nearly 11 months since federal prosecutors have arrested a sitting state lawmaker, though two State Senate Democrats—John Sampson and Malcolm Smith—are currently facing federal indictment. Smith has pleaded not guilty to trying to bribe his way on the Republican line for New York City mayor, and Sampson has pleaded not guilty to charges that he threatened federal witnesses, lied on an application for a liquor store and embezzled money from mortgage accounts.

Also arrested in 2013 was Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, a Bronx Democrat who was found guilty of taking cash to sponsor a bill. His arrested prompted the resignation of Assemblyman Nelson Castro, another Bronx Democrat, who admitted to wearing a wire while interacting with fellow lawmakers.