Complaint: Political consultant defrauded Senate Democrats

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ALBANY—A political consultant with ties to leading Democrats has been charged with defrauding the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, in a complaint by federal prosecutors.

A complaint unsealed Tuesday alleges that Melvin Lowe, a Manhttan-based political consultant, defrauded Senate Democrats of $100,000 for non-existent campaign literature. The 12-page complaint says Lowe funneled the payments through a New Jersey-based company—which based on campaign finance disclosures appears to be Cornerstone Management Partners. The complaint says Cornerstone kept $5,000, directed $20,000 to another, unnamed political consultant and sent $75,000 to Lowe.

“Today’s Complaint alleges that New York's culture of political corruption extends beyond elected officials to the relatively unknown professional political insiders who work behind the scenes to carry out corrupt schemes," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "Our investigation will continue and we will continue bringing to justice every corrupt official we find, as well as those who allegedly execute their unlawful plots."

Republicans will spin the latest charges as another reminder that the crop of Democrats who ran the Senate from 2008 to 2010 brought with them a host of issues, some of which have been the subject of court action. The conference has since appointed Yonkers Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins as its leader; previous leaders including John Sampson, Malcolm Smith and Pedro Espada Jr. have all been charged or convicted.

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The charges against Lowe were presaged in court filings that were made public in May related to the sentencing of ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley. Lowe was one of nine people surreptitiously recorded by Huntley, and some Democrats had already sniped about the $225,000 he was paid by the conference during the 2010 election cycle.

Those elections saw the Democrats swept from power and left with still-lingering debt.

Lowe was also charged with tax fraud and falsifying records to obtain a mortgage. He was arrested this morning, the Times reported, and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Here's the complaint against Lowe:

LoweMelvin Complaint by Nick Reisman