A New York state lawmaker from a long line of politicians was acquitted Thursday on charges he tarnished the family name by taking a no-show job in exchange for doing political favors for a corrupt hospital executive in his New York City district.
A federal jury reached the verdict at the bribery trial of Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., a Brooklyn Democrat.
The Manhattan case against Boyland stemmed from an investigation that resulted in the conviction at a non-jury trial in September of the hospital executive, David Rosen, on charges that Rosen sought to bribe Boyland and two other legislators, former state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio and state Sen. Carl Kruger. The judge found Rosen sought to pay off the politicians while seeking legislation to protect and enlarge medical facilities located largely in poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.
Boyland, 41, worked for one of Rosen's hospitals before he was elected in 2003 to the legislative post, which pays about $79,000 a year. Authorities say the hospital continued to pay him an annual salary of about $35,000 a year until 2008 — even though he never did any real work or followed rules requiring him to report the income — in exchange for helping Rosen secure millions of dollars in state funding.
A state official testified last week that she tracked down Boyland on the Assembly floor in 2009 and tried to pin him down on why he failed to list the hospital income on financial disclosure forms. When asked if the hospital was paying him, she said he dismissively responded, "Not enough."
FBI agents later showed up at Boyland's Brooklyn home to ask him about the hospital job and his relationship with Rosen. An agent testified that the assemblyman told them he never discussed his employment with the executive — a statement prosecutor Glen McGorty called "the biggest whopper of all."
The alleged false statements were "the best evidence William Boyland Jr. knew he was being bribed," McGorty said in closing arguments. "He lied because he knew the arrangement was a crime."
Boyland never denied the hospital paid him a salary. But his lawyer argued that the government failed to prove his client viewed it as anything other than legitimate compensation for community outreach that had nothing to do with his duties as an elected official.
"There has been no evidence of his state of mind or his intent," said the attorney, Richard Rosenberg.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office released a statement after the verdict was reached Thursday, saying they were disappointed by the acquittal, "but respect the jury's verdict, and we remain absolutely committed to pursuing public corruption in Albany and elsewhere."
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.
Seminerio died in prison, where he was serving a sentence since his 2009 conviction for defrauding his Queens constituents of honest services.
Kruger is facing charges he accepted more than $1 million in bribes from a variety of business people. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a separate trial.
Boyland has remained in the Legislature while fighting the charges.