A tanned McLaughlin back in court

Categories: Citystate
Sporting a fresh Florida tan, scandal-scarred labor big Brian McLaughlin was in federal court this morning to ask for more time to sift through evidence gathered during the government's years-long investigation of him.

McLaughlin, the former Queens assemblyman who doubled as powerful president of the city's Central Labor Council, faces decades in prison for allegedly stealing more than $2.2 million. But he looked none the worse for wear when he showed up in Manhattan Federal Court in a dark pin-striped suit and a healthy glow from a few days in the Sunshine State.

With the court's permission, McLaughlin, who is free on $250,000 bail, travelled to Florida in late February to sell a seaside home he owns in Melbourne Beach on Florida's "Space Coast" just south of Cape Canaveral.

The trip, from February 21 to 26, coincided with a confab of unionists who were in Florida at the same time for a meeting of the Building Construction Trades department of the AFL-CIO.

"I didn't go to any of the labor events," a jovial- seeming McLaughlin told reporters on his way into the courtroom. "But I hear [presidential candidate] John Edwards is working the international unions hard," the defendant added.

Asked if he was an Edwards fan, McLaughlin was led away by his attorney, Michael Armstrong, before he could answer. In court, McLaughlin sat mum as his attorney told Judge Kenneth Karas that he needed yet more time to comb through 100 boxes of evidence that were collected by city, state, and federal investigators during their probe of the labor leader.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Braun, who is handling the case, agreed to the delay and Karas set a date for a new hearing. McLaughlin didn't flinch when Karas said the next hearing would be on April 13. "That's a Friday," the judge said. "I hope that's okay with you."


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