Federal agents have raided the home, offices and hotel room of a state assemblyman from Queens in an investigation of his daily expense claims, the lawmaker said Wednesday.
Democrat William Scarborough said FBI agents had left his office earlier in the day with boxes marked "evidence." He says they took his cellphone, calendars and "just about everything." Hours earlier, agents and representatives from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office also raided his Albany hotel room, he said.
The investigation is the latest in a series of embarrassing corruption and sexual harassment scandals in the New York Legislature.
Scarborough told reporters outside his Albany office that he hasn't misused per diems, the daily payments that out-of-town lawmakers can collect when the stay over in Albany, and called the investigation a misunderstanding.
Scarborough initially said the FBI told him to expect indictments in the case, but that he would not be among them. Scarborough later softened his claim, telling reporters to ask the FBI about potential indictments.
Scarborough also said the agents wanted him to provide information about other legislators.
"They said to me, 'We'd like you to take responsibility and help us if you know of any corruption,'" Scarborough said. "The reality is I don't know of any corruption."
Scarborough said that a "misunderstanding of the Assembly voucher system," along with a 2012 New York Post story about per diem abuse, prompted the investigation. Scarborough said that under Assembly regulations, if he spends the night in Albany, he is entitled to claim being there regardless of the time he arrives.
According to Scarborough, he would leave his home in Queens around 9 p.m. to head to Albany and claim the day, in accordance with the Assembly regulations. The drive from Queens to Albany is roughly three hours.
Schneiderman's office referred questions to the FBI. An FBI representative confirmed the searches of Scarborough's Albany and district offices but declined to comment further.
A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats said they had no other information. Representatives for the Senate said they were not aware of any of their members being investigated.
Following word of the investigation, the Empire Center for Public Policy released a ranking of lawmakers based on their travel expenses. Scarborough ranked first for the year from April 2012 to March 2013, collecting $32,492.
Scarborough was first elected to the office in 1994.