Vincent Leibell leaves the Federal Court House in White Plains on Monday after pleading guilty on two counts.On Monday morning, former State Senator Vincent Leibell pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and one count of tax evasion at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in White Plains. Leibell, who resigned from his senate seat December 3, was elected in November as Putnam County executive. However, as first reported by the Courier, he announced last week he would not be taking office, leading to rumors that court action was imminent.
In a county of 100,000 people, news tends to travel fast—especially when it involves corruption, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and one of the most powerful men in the State of New York. After multiple subpoenas last spring jump-started several months of speculation and hearsay, Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Carbone and Leibell confirmed the rumors in court Monday.
Void of the emotion often associated with courtroom confessions, Leibell was composed as he told Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge George Yanthis that he was indeed guilty of the two charges.
Carbone explained to the court that Leibell had knowingly impeded an ongoing federal investigation, instructing people to lie to federal agents and to a grand jury in order to protect himself from indictment. That investigation was focused on corruption inside what Carbone said was a community foundation focused on providing senior housing. Leibell’s non-profit Putnam Community Foundation, a recipient of large sums of state tax dollars, is well known for providing senior housing in Putnam.
The prosecution said that they had video and audio recordings of a meeting that Leibell had in Carmel on June 6, during which he advised an unnamed attorney to fabricate reasons for withdrawing large sums of cash, which were transferred to Leibell. “All I know is, as long as you and I are consistent, I’m fine, you’re fine,” Leibell told the attorney. “There was never any cash between you and I, okay?”
Leibell was specific in his plan, telling the attorney to say that the cash was for his ailing mother and for emergency use in the case of a terrorist attack. Leibell acknowledged that he did not report the cash on his tax returns. The former state senator also received money from a second attorney, for providing him with a lucrative consulting position. There is speculation that the second attorney is Anthony Mangone, of Westchester, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges last week. Leibell admitted to taking $43,000 in cash from the two lawyers between 2003 and 2006, all of which went unreported.
Leibell paid the bail set at $100,000 and is scheduled for sentencing on the morning of March 7, 2011.
Although Putnam Board of Elections commissioner Anthony Scannapieco is a fierce political rival of Leibell, his excitement was limited. “I think he got off easy,” he told the Courier outside of the courtroom. “Now the Republican Party needs to purge itself of all his stooges so we can get back to business.”
At a press conference following the court proceeding, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told the Courier he could not comment on whether there are any ongoing investigations involving Leibell.
Visit putnamcountycourier.com later today and read the Courier on Thursday for full coverage of Monday’s events and continuing developments.