WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP/WCBS 880) —A Republican state legislator who served 28 years before resigning last week admitted Monday to criminal charges that he filed false tax returns and tried to influence a grand jury investigating corruption.
Ex-Sen. Vincent Leibell of suburban New York City pleaded guilty to tax evasion and to obstruction of justice related to an investigation of corruption in Putnam County.
He admitted he filed false tax returns for 2003 through 2006, failing to report a total of $43,000.
WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi with reaction from Putnam’s elections commissioner
WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi with details from Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney.
Leibell said “guilty, your honor” to each of the two counts. He apologized in court to family, friends and constituents, saying: “I deeply regret these actions.”
Both counts allege kickback payments to Leibell from lawyers who did business with a foundation he controlled. Leibell will remain free on $100,000 bond until his sentencing. Prosecutors say federal guidelines call for him to get between 18 and 24 months.
Leibell, 64, served 28 years in the Senate and Assembly.
In June, Leibell acknowledged to The Journal News that the FBI had subpoenaed building records for his home in Patterson.
The newspaper said records showed Leibell bought the property in 1996 from the family of ‘Bewitched” actress Elizabeth Montgomery, for whom he had done legal work. He paid $110,000 and built a five-bedroom colonial with swimming pool.
The property was assessed this year at $1.4 million, The Journal News said. “Everything that I did in terms of that house was most appropriate,” Leibell said then. “I built a house like millions of other Americans have done.”
Leibell was part of the Senate’s Republican minority the last two years, as Democrats held a 32-30 majority. He was well-liked in the Republican conference but rarely took the lead on policy initiatives even when Republicans were in the majority.
Instead, he appeared to concentrate on issues back in his district, from local projects to getting highway work.
He was a reliable conservative vote for the Republican conference in budget matters.
Leibell did not run for re-election this year but his seat remained in GOP hands when Assemblyman Greg Ball won the position.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)