A nine-term Queens state assemblyman was charged with stealing more than $40,000 from his campaign and scamming taxpayers for another $40,000 in phony travel expenses as the parade of Albany scandals continued Wednesday.
Assembly Democrat William Scarborough faces up to 37 years in prison if convicted on a federal indictment alleging he submitted 174 bogus vouchers for trips to the Capitol, and a 23-count state complaint that says he used campaign cash to pay personal expenses.
Attorney Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman acknowledged at a news conference that Scarborough was only the latest Albany politician to face corruption charges and signaled he would not be the last.
"Our goal is to try to change a culture," he said. "The culture has to change. It's over."
Scarborough's lawyer said he entered pleas of not guilty in federal and state courts in Albany. "We'll go forward from there," said E. Stewart Jones.
Jones said the defense will contend the allegedly stolen campaign funds were actually reimbursement for money Scarborough spent on "campaign-related and constitutent-related activity." The voucher fraud charges were based on inaccurate scheduling records, he said.
In March, former Brooklyn Assemb. William Boyland was convicted of stealing more than $71,000 through false claims about travel to Albany for legislative business. He is in jail awaiting sentencing.
Scarborough's federal indictment is similar, alleging that from 2009 through 2012 he lied about going to Albany or how long he stayed when filing for mileage, tolls and "per diem" fees of $160 to $171 overnight, or $49 to $61 for partial days.
The indictment said that of 198 vouchers filed, 174 were false in some regard. Scarborough ranked first or second among Albany legislators in travel expenses claimed from 2009 to 2013, according to the state comptroller.
The campaign finance theft, Schneiderman said, came in three forms -- cash Scarborough took from his campaign accounts, cash he moved to his personal account, and checks to his campaign committee he endorsed and misappropriated.
"When people donate money to a political campaign, they have to be able to trust it will be used for a proper purpose," he said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, asked about the case, didn't seem stunned.
"I believe you are always going to have people who break the law," said Cuomo, criticized for prematurely disbanding a panel to probe corruption. "They do that in the public sector, they do that in the private sector."