Former Queens Assemblyman Jimmy Meng Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud
Meng Falsely Promised State Court Defendant He Could Bribe ADAs
Caught Accepting Fruit Basket Containing Thousands of Dollars in Cash
Earlier today, former Queens County Assemblyman Jimmy Meng waived indictment and pled guilty to an information charging him with wire fraud for soliciting $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant and falsely claiming that he would use the money to bribe prosecutors in the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan to obtain a reduced sentence. The government’s investigation uncovered no evidence that Meng actually contacted anyone in the District Attorney’s Office on the state court defendant’s behalf, but instead planned to keep the bribe money for himself. Meng pled guilty before United States District Judge Allyne R. Ross, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Mary E. Galligan, Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
Meng was arrested in July 2012 based on a complaint that detailed his fraudulent bribe scheme. As set forth in the complaint, in 2011, a grand jury in Manhattan returned an indictment charging the state court defendant with tax crimes. Thereafter, the state court defendant approached Meng and sought his advice and assistance in the case. Meng told the state court defendant that several Assistant District Attorneys (“ADAs”) in the District Attorney’s Office had been assigned to his case, and if the state court defendant used Meng to pay them $20,000 each, the state court defendant would be sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence substantially below the plea offer that had been extended by the District Attorney’s Office. The state court defendant, hereafter referred to as the “CW” for cooperating witness, reported Meng’s offer to federal law enforcement authorities and began cooperating with the federal investigation.
Between December 2011 and July 2012, the CW, acting at the direction of FBI agents, recorded numerous telephone calls and meetings with Meng that captured Meng engaging in the charged bribe scheme.1 For example, in a recorded conversation at a lumber yard owned by Meng in January 2012, Meng instructed the CW to collect $80,000 in cash and conceal it in a basket of fruit, which Meng would arrange to have picked up. Meng told the CW that several ADAs were assigned to the CW’s case and that each of the ADAs had to agree on the resolution of the CW’s case for the bribe scheme to succeed. Meng explained that he had already initiated contact with the ADAs and told the CW that in order to ensure the secrecy of the purported bribe scheme, “you can never say in the future that Jimmy Meng helped me find people.” Meng further told the CW that if he received a sentence of more than two years in jail, Meng would return the CW’s money, except for a $2,000 errand fee: “I’ll be responsible. If [sic] didn’t get it done for you, right? Over three years, right? Over two years, right? Then just charge you $2,000 – $2,000 for running errands and the rest – I take responsibility – will be returned to you completely.”
In February 2012, the CW met with Meng at a parking lot in Queens, where Meng discussed the bribe scheme. During this meeting, which was recorded, Meng claimed that an ADA who had refused to negotiate with the CW’s attorney must be paid bribe money. Meng reiterated that the CW’s money would be paid to the ADAs and that if the CW received more than two years in prison, the CW’s money would be refunded. Subsequently, in July 2012, the CW placed a recorded telephone call to Meng the day before the CW was due to appear at a status conference in state court, and Meng told the CW that progress had been made on the case. Meng also told the CW that he would be contacting the “people on the other side” and reminded the CW not to tell the CW’s lawyer about Meng’s involvement in the case. On July 17, 2012, during a recorded telephone call, Meng told the CW to prepare the money and deliver it to Meng’s lumber yard. Meng told the CW: “Give it to me and I will give it to them.” As indicated above, Meng had made no contact with the District Attorney’s Office, but instead planned to keep the bribe money for himself.
On July 24, 2012, under the surveillance of FBI agents, the CW met with Meng in the vicinity of Meng’s lumber yard in Queens. As directed by Meng, the CW brought a fruit basket containing thousands of dollars. After Meng accepted the fruit basket, he was placed under arrest by FBI agents.
“Jimmy Meng sought to take advantage of his status as a power broker in the Flushing, Queens, community with only one design in mind -- lining his own pockets. Meng dangled the promise of justice for sale, but his claims of special access to prosecutors were nothing more than lies, designed to satisfy his greed,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “The law enforcement community will not allow anyone to undermine our criminal justice system, and we will remain vigilant in pursuing those who threaten the system’s integrity.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation, and thanked the New York County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance.
Meng faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. His sentencing is scheduled for March 12, 2013. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Kaminsky and Marisa Seifan.
Name: JIMMY MENG
Residence: Bayside, New York
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