Queens Pol Seminerio’s Lessons on Government Interrupted by FBI, Indictment

seminerio.jpgHere's that aging rascal, Queens assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, explaining the ways of the world to an Albany favor seeker about why the veteran legislator decided to cut out the middleman and become his own lobbyist:

"I was doing favors for these sons-of-bitches there, you know, they were, they were making thousands. 'Screw you, from now on, you know I'm a consultant.'"

That's one of the wonderfully salty conversations recorded by the FBI during a year-long probe of Seminerio, 73, who today became the latest state legislator to pose for mug shots.

Seminerio's indictment was announced this afternoon by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia who told a sparsely attended press conference this afternoon that Seminerio raked in some $500,000 by signing up clients for a firm he controlled called Marc Consultants. Seminerio said the idea for the firm wasn't even his own. He got the scheme from "two senators" who had their own firms, he told a client who cooperated with the feds.

The only client the feds are so far willing to discuss is an unnamed hospital that paid the assemblyman $310,000 for his help. Two of the hospital's top executives were recorded on FBI wiretaps on July 9 beseeching Seminerio for his assistance with a state health official who was being unhelpful. Seminerio promptly boasted back: "You got to tell me these things, and I'll break his balls, and I know what to break his balls about."

There's more where that came from, along with a guessing game as to the identities of several assembly members and state senators who sat down with Seminerio as he walked another client through the state capitol. Unfortunately for Tony S., that client turns out to have been an undercover FBI agent.

There's also an unremarkable conversation that was recorded on August 11 with someone identified only as "the Assembly leader." Hmm. Is his last name also a precious metal?

Seminerio, trying to find out about Governor Paterson's hit list for health services, is heard stressing the importance of good health care for the general population.

"I mean... for Christ's sakes. You, you, you know something? Honest to God, if I'm wrong, say 'Tony, you're wrong.' You know it, I don't give a fuck how educated you are, if you're not in good health, what good is it gonna do you?"

To which the unnamed Assembly leader responds with Sphinx-like brevity:

"You got it."

Seminerio, an ex-corrections officer, has long been known around Albany as a roly-poly guy with a sharp tongue and a penchant for taking naps in the legislative lounge during sessions. His main claim to legislative fame has been helping land pension and benefit perks for unions representing civil servants who wear uniforms.

He also made news when he stood up to heckle then-governor Mario Cuomo during his State of the State speech in January 1992. Cuomo was recommending a rule that each legislator be docked a days' pay for every day the budget was late. Seminerio stood and yelled: "It's good when you got a lot of dollars. It's good when you got a lot of dollars, Guv!"

Cuomo looked at Seminerio and asked if he needed a loan.

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