NEW YORK, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The chief-of-staff for New York Assemblyman William Boyland Jr was arrested and charged Thursday with aiding her boss in a scheme to solicit more than $250,000 in bribes while he was under indictment for corruption in a separate case in Manhattan.
According to a complaint unsealed Thursday in Brooklyn federal court, Ryan Hermon, 33, helped set up meetings, take bribes from a carnival promoter and arrange political favors for undercover FBI agents posing as real-estate developers seeking Boyland's help in exchange for money.
"The charged conduct is an affront to the people of New York," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "Staffers who sell the public's trust are on notice that they will be held to account for their criminal activities."
Boyland, a Brooklyn Democrat, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the same alleged scheme, less than a month after he was acquitted by a Manhattan jury of corruption charges. He has been released on $100,000 bail and will plead not guilty, according to his attorney, Richard Rosenberg.
Prosecutors charge that Hermon worked closely with her boss in seeking bribes, both for her boss and for herself and other Boyland staffers, from the carnival promoter and the undercover agents in exchange for promises to help them secure permits, leases and other governmental assistance.
During one meeting with an undercover FBI agent on February 27, Hermon took $1,000 in cash as a "down payment," prosecutors said. In March, Hermon took another $1,000 from the undercover agent and told the agent that she was sharing the money with other staffers in Boyland's office, according to the complaint.
'THEY'RE GONNA GET SOMETHING'
"[T]he staff, when I come in and say well [the undercover agent] needs this, dah dah dah did dah. They're jumping 'cause they know, like I'm, they're gonna get something or they got something," Hermon said, according to recordings of the meeting quoted in the complaint.
After Boyland was arrested and charged in Manhattan in March, Hermon allegedly made calls to the undercover agent to help drum up money for Boyland's legal fees, prosecutors said.
According to a recorded telephone conversation quoted in the complaint, Hermon called the agent on March 22 on Boyland's behalf to "see if you can actually help him financially with, you know, retaining an attorney, he needs some cash and he's cash strapped. ... [T]hat's exactly what he's calling about."
Hermon then told the agent that Boyland needed $7,000, according to the complaint.
In the following weeks, Hermon had multiple recorded conversations with the agent about a potential deal in which Boyland would accept a $250,000 payment in exchange for helping to arrange for the sale of a Brooklyn hospital that was to have been renovated with the assistance of state grants to be lined up by Boyland.
In June, Hermon began to back away from the hospital project, telling the agent that Boyland had been questioned by law enforcement about "his role with the hospital," according to the complaint.
Hermon is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn court. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison. Her attorney, John Freeman, said she intends to plead not guilty.
"Ms. Hermon's responsibility to the public was pushed aside," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk said in a statement. "Apparently, her concept of her job included conspiring with her boss to solicit and take bribes."
The government said that its investigation into the alleged bribery scheme is ongoing. No other staffers have been charged yet in connection with the probe.
The case is United States v. Hermon, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, no. 11-1183.
For the U.S.: Assistant U.S. attorneys Roger Burlingame, Carolyn Pokorny and Lan Nguyen.
For Hermon: John Freeman.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
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