NEW YORK (AP) – Former Democratic state assemblyman and labor leader Brian McLaughlin was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison after apologizing for abusing his authority in a multimillion-dollar scheme to enrich himself.

“Of course I’m very, very sorry for all my improper conduct and criminal activity,” McLaughlin said in federal court in Manhattan. “I make no excuses for it.”

McLaughlin, 56, served seven terms in the state Assembly before becoming president of the nation’s largest municipal labor council.

He pleaded guilty last year to racketeering charges alleging he secretly skimmed $2.2 million from various sources, including a political campaign committee, union accounts meant to provide benefits for members and even contributions to a Little League baseball program.

At sentencing, defense attorney Michael Armstrong argued his client – as “a good person who went terribly wrong” – should get a break. McLaughlin himself asked for “the mercy of the court.”

But U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan told McLaughlin he deserved a tough sentence for violating the trust of his constituents. The judge said he would have imposed a 15-year term if the defendant hadn’t cooperated with prosecutors.

“The brazen and perversely creative way you abused that trust just can’t be overlooked,” the judge said.

The government had accused McLaughlin, while the highest-ranking official of the J Division of Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, of turning union members into a private work force. The union members, it said, took his dog to the doctor, hung Christmas lights, shoveled snow, cleaned out a barn and looked for rodents in his basement.

McLaughlin also admitted he used his position as a state assemblyman between 1997 and 2006 to direct state funds to a rigged community association. He created two bank accounts for the association – one to fund children’s athletics, the other for personal use.

Prosecutors said McLaughlin lived lavishly, buying his wife an $80,000 luxury car and renovating a Long Island home. Other money went to pay rent on Albany and Queens homes and to pay off personal credit bills, they said.

The judge allowed him to remain free on $250,000 bail until his surrender on July 21.


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