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New York assemblyman charged in bribery scandal

Thursday, April 04, 2013

A New York state assemblyman has been charged in a bribery scandal that led a prosecutor to say that corruption in the state "is indeed rampant."

Assemblymen Eric Stevenson were arrested after a federal investigation in which another state assemblyman, Nelson Castro, cooperated against him, authorities announced Thursday.

Stevenson and four businessmen were charged in part with conspiring to pass a bill in the state legislature to protect a new Bronx adult center from competitors for three years to give the center a monopoly against other facilities that might want to offer meals, social activities and supervision for the elderly and disabled.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara highlighted some of Stevenson's quotes heard by investigators, including one in which the assemblyman allegedly said "if half of the people up here in Albany was ever caught for what they do ... they ... would probably be in (jail)."

Castro has already notified Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that he was resigning. Silver called for Stevenson to resign as well.

"The people of New York should be more than just disappointed. They should be angry," Bharara said.

According to court papers, Stevenson accepted more than $22,000 in bribes in exchange for drafting, proposing and agreeing to enact legislation to aid his co-defendants' businesses.

"Assemblyman Stevenson was only too happy to oblige for the right price," Bharara said. "He basically said, 'Show me the money.' ... And the money was shown over and over and over again."

The arrests came two days after federal authorities arrested state Sen. Malcolm Smith in an alleged plot to bribe his way into the New York City mayor's race. Smith, released on bail, said he'll be vindicated. Several other politicians also were charged in that case.

Stevenson has been released on $250,000 bail. He declined to comment on the charges.

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