Former Queens Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio, who was serving a six-year sentence after being found guilty of extortion, died this morning in federal prison.
Seminerio served the 38th District in Queens, which includes the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, Glendale, and Woodhaven, for over thirty years. He was sentenced in Feburary of 2010 to federal prison by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald for accepting bribes and extorting businesses during his time in the State Assembly.
At the time of his sentencing, the Daily News reported Seminerio told his friends and family in court that he'd "be ok."
Less optimistic, he later told reporters, "I'm 74 years old. How much time have I left?"
The Democrat took his last breath at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina at the age 75, according to prison spokeswoman Denise Simmons.
Judge Buchwald said at his hearing that he was involved in a scheme to defraud the public--notably residents and business owners in his district--by using a fake consulting firm to solicit and receive "consulting" payments.
Seminerio was charged for taking nearly $1 million from hospitals, schools, and other businesses, and plead guilty in June of 2009. In addition to his prison time, the judge ordered he pay back $1 million in forfeiture.
Assemblymember Michael Miller, Seminerio's successor in the Assembly, expressed his sympathies to the Seminerio family this afternoon. Despite the disgraced former Assemblyman's convictions, Miller said he'd like to keep it positive.
"His caring and commitment needs to be remembered," he said. "He did a lot of great things for the district. I'm sure the people here are going to remember him for all the good things he did for them."
Miller noted the funding Seminerio always obtained for community groups like the Glendale Civilian Patrol and the Richmond Hill Block Association--just a few of the many organizations Seminerio helped throughout the years, Miller said.
"He made sure he delivered for his community, and he should be remembered like that," he said.