New York State Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. solicited and accepted thousands of dollars in bribes, a special agent from the FBI testified Tuesday in the second week of Boyland’s corruption trial in federal court in Brooklyn.
Boyland, 42, whose father and uncle also served as New York state assemblymen, asked undercover agents posing as businessmen for $250,000 to cover his legal expenses for a federal corruption trial he was facing at the time in 2011, according to the arrest warrant.
Over a series of dinners and meetings in hotel rooms from 2010 to 2011, Boyland, according to the warrant, negotiated with two undercover agents and a cooperating witness posing as businessmen interested in real estate deals and permits for carnivals in Boyland’s district, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Ocean Hill, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and Bushwick.
Boyland is charged with 21 counts, including multiple counts of extortion conspiracy, bribery, and interference with commerce by threat or violence. A warrant was issued for his arrest Nov. 28, 2011, less than three weeks after he was acquitted at his previous corruption trial.
Special agent Brian Getson recounted Tuesday how he arranged to go to Boyland’s office on Thomas S. Boyland St., named for the politician’s uncle, to write a check on Feb. 17, 2011.
Getson said that at the office, Boyland’s father, William F. Boyland, Sr., 74, who served as the assemblyman for the 55th district until his son took over in 2003, asked Getson to follow him outside, saying, “It’s better to do things outside.”
Once outside, Boyland, Sr., said, “Now we can do it,” and then asked, “How far can you go?” according to Getson.
Getson, wearing long hair, a beard, and a gray pinstriped suit, said he wrote a check for $3,000 but left the payee line blank.
The line was later filled in with “William F. Boyland 2010” and the check was deposited into a bank account with the same name, according to the arrest warrant.
Boyland, Sr., who was in the audience, leaned forward as Getson testified. He has not been charged with any crimes. A spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s office said he could not comment as to why.
The prosecution also played video from a hidden camera that recorded an earlier meeting the agents had with Boyland in a hotel room. Boyland reassured the agents that he had good connections with officials in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and other departments, saying he had known some since he was a child.
In response, one of the agents asked Boyland how much he wanted in exchange for using his influence.
“What do you need as a, as a whatever you want to call it, a finder’s fee, compensation for it, whatever,” asked Special Agent Quinn, according to the transcript of the video. “I’m willing to pay for what you do. This is work. This is not like, I know this shit isn’t free and I never expect it to be free.”
When Boyland reiterated his request of $250,000 to retain his lawyer who was fighting the earlier case of corruption charges, Quinn rejected it, saying, “Well that’s a lot of money for not having done anything yet.”
Instead, Quinn proposed paying $5,000 for each person that Boyland introduced him to. Boyland refused, saying the people he had in mind were worth more.
“I’m talking about commissioners,” said Boyland. “I’m talking about people who pull triggers on projects. I’m not talking about secretaries who know somebody. I’m talking about folks that make decisions. I’m not talking about $5,000 folks. I’m talking about people who can get projects done. I’m talking about commissioners of every one of these areas that can pull the trigger on these projects. We’re talking about the man.”
In her cross-examination of Special Agent Getson, defense lawyer Nancy Ennis asked if Getson had seen any proof that Boyland had actually secured any carnival permits. He said he hadn’t.
“You relied on his word?” asked Ennis.
“Yes,” said Getson.
“You understand that Mr. Boyland was relying on you?” she asked, prompting an objection from the prosecution, which Judge Sandra L. Townes sustained.
As Boyland prepared to exit the courthouse with his family at the end of the day, he spotted photographers waiting outside.
“Just keep walking, past the cameras,” he said to his mother and the other two people with him.
Boyland is currently free on $100,000 bail, though his travel is restricted to the state. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.