A New York state assemblyman from a family of Brooklyn politicians was convicted Thursday of charges he was caught in a sting operation accepting bribes from a carnival promoter and two undercover FBI agents posing as out-of-town real estate investors.
A jury convicted William Boyland Jr. at a federal trial in Brooklyn.
The verdict came after prosecutors presented a case built on hours of audio and video recordings and the testimony of Boyland's former chief of staff, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges and testified on behalf of the government.
The evidence revealed "the underbelly of the defendant's corrupt, secretive and deceitful schemes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Lan Nguyen said in closing arguments.
Boyland didn't dispute that he drank and dined with the undercovers during meetings at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn and the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. But his lawyers said his only offense was making empty promises.
The Democratic lawmaker "was playing the players," said defense attorney Nancy Ennis.
Boyland first came under scrutiny in 2010 when he accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to help a carnival promoter obtain permits and leases, prosecutors said. At the direction of the FBI, the promoter introduced the assemblyman to the undercover agents.
During a meeting in an Atlantic City hotel room in 2011, the lawmaker was caught on tape offering to arrange a deal for the phony businessmen to buy a hospital in his district at a discount and secure state funds for a renovation in exchange for $250,000.
After one of the agents told Boyland not to "be bashful" in naming his price, the lawmaker said, "Two fifty." In another video, Boyland could be seen taking the agents on a tour of his district and boasting, "I control all this."
The former chief of staff testified she helped him use $50,000 in state funds meant for a nonprofit to throw a 2008 party for elderly voters that featured a James Brown impersonator. The funds also were used to pay for T-shirts with the slogan "Team Boyland," she said.
Boyland's uncle, Thomas Boyland, represented the same Brooklyn district in the Assembly from 1977 to 1982. After he died in office, his brother, William Boyland Sr., was elected to fill the seat.
In 2002, the elder Boyland easily won re-election to an 11th two-year term, but resigned between the election and the start of the next session to turn the seat over to his son.