Boylands Go Bust in Brooklyn: Is William Jr. the Last of the ‘Kennedys of Brownsville’?

Under federal indictment, the assemblyman faces the end of a family legacy

Mr. Boyland’s year of living dangerously.

Mr. Boyland’s attorney, Richard Rosenberg, declined to comment on the progress of the case when we spoke to him earlier this month, saying “I’d prefer not to give an interview. I try my cases in the courtroom.”

Even so, at a Jan. 4 court appearance, Mr. Boyland’s attorneys and the prosecution submitted a joint request for the start of his trial to be postponed until this month because “they are engaged in plea negotiations, which they believe are likely to result in a disposition of this case without trial. The bribery and extortion charges he is currently facing are felonies and a guilty plea would mean Mr. Boyland must relinquish the Assembly seat his family has held since 1976.

When Mr. Rosenberg and the prosecution last met for a “status conference” in front of Judge Sandra Townes on Feb. 3, a plea had not been reached and a follow-up appearance was set for May 4.

The elder Mr. Boyland doesn’t think his son will take a plea deal, because the younger Mr. Boyland emerged unscathed from his last corruption case. Last March, the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, unveiled the first bribery case against Assemblyman Boyland, accusing him of taking “what amounted to a no-show consulting job” with the MediSys Health Network that paid him approximately $177,368.95 during his first five years in the Legislature in exchange for taking “official action” to benefit the company, including asking the Assembly speaker, with whom he had a “chummy” relationship, according to The New York Times, to award several million dollars to a hospital that was part of the MediSys network.

 

The first set of charges against Mr. Boyland resulted from an FBI wiretap investigation into the activities of four hospital executives, lobbyist Richard Lipsky, State Senator Carl Kruger and the senator’s rumored lover, Michael Turano. The other seven men involved in the investigation were all convicted, but Mr. Boyland was acquitted Nov. 10.

“They spent all that money and did not beat the one little old poor guy,” the elder Mr. Boyland said. “The rest of the guys plead and they had high-powered lawyers, this guy, they done run us out of money, but if he didn’t plea on that why would he plea on this one?”

(According to the Daily News, when the judge read the “not guilty” verdict, his chief of staff, Ryan Hermon, “let out a loud yelp.”)

Less than three weeks later, both Ms. Hermon and the assemblyman were arrested on the new round of corruption charges. This time, FBI investigators were armed with tapes of Mr. Boyland and Ms. Hermon allegedly soliciting bribes from undercover agents and informants they believed to be carnival promoters and real estate developers interested in setting up shop in the assemblyman’s district.

In what could prove to be a painful irony, Mr. Boyland is allegedly heard on tape saying he needed $7,000 to “solidify some attorneys” and cover his legal fees.

But it’s not just legal woes that could threaten Mr. Boyland’s seat, and the family reputation. As the charges against him mounted, Mr. Boyland has faced growing threats to his power in Brownsville and increased scrutiny on his record in the statehouse. He has hardly been an active presence in Albany in recent years. He didn’t introduce a single piece of legislation in 2010, 2011 or the first part of the young 2012 legislative session. Last year, he missed one-third of the 60 Assembly sessions. And though he was rarely seen in Albany last year, he was a regular presence on Facebook, where, as chronicled by City & State reporter Laura Nahmias, he spent hours playing the game CityVille while he was missing Assembly sessions, an  embarrassing revelation that was picked up by dozens of news outlets.

As if arrest, federal indictment and negative press weren’t enough, there is also the matter of the lawsuits the State Board of Elections has filed against Mr. Boyland—41 at last count, resulting in more than $20,000 in damages, none of which has been paid.

Bill Mahoney, who works on campaign finance issues with the New York Public Interest Research group, told The Observer Assemblyman Boyland’s failure to file disclosures raises the possibility he’s used campaign contributions for personal expenses.

“Candidates often do use their donations for personal expenses, even if they do file properly,” Mr. Mahoney said. “But it does raise more red flags, because if you don’t do any filings, you may have used an even larger amount of money for personal expenses. It’s just impossible for us to tell.”

Despite the outstanding damages, however, Mr. Boyland doesn’t face more serious trouble for his failure to file campaign disclosures. “We’ve got no enforcement right now at all at the Board of Elections. They can’t do much to make candidates file,” Mr. Mahoney said.

Boylands Go Bust in Brooklyn: Is William Jr. the Last of the ‘Kennedys of Brownsville’?