Sunday, July 29, 2012

Asian crime in New York: Former Queens Assemblyman Jimmy Meng has been arrested for wire fraud

Jimmy Meng didn’t even wait until he was out of the courthouse before he called the witness whose secret recordings led to the former Queens assemblyman’s arrest for wire fraud. Meng, free on $1 million bond, was hauled back into Brooklyn Federal Court, and a judge gave him a tongue-lashing for phoning the unnamed witness. Meng, 68, the first Asian-American elected to the state Legislature, was charged with wire fraud for claiming he could influence prosecutors to fix the witness’ criminal case in return for $80,000, authorities said. Prosecutors believe Meng was feeding the witness a line of bull. “It is a violation of this bond to threaten or attempt to influence the testimony of anybody who might be a witness against you in the case,” Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak scolded. “If you do it again, you’re going to jail.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Seifan told the judge that after Meng’s call, an unidentified associate of his also “reached out” to the witness. Meng appeared glum in court and was still wearing the same blue short-sleeve collared shirt and khaki slacks he wore when FBI agents pinched him at his Queens lumber yard. The agents slapped handcuffs on Meng after he accepted from the cooperating witness a fruit basket containing $80,000 in cash — as Meng had instructed — to be used to bribe Manhattan prosecutors. The feds pressed Meng to cooperate in an ongoing corruption investigation that includes among its targets the fund-raising in the city’s Asian community that City Controller John Liu’s mayoral campaign has undertaken, sources said. But Meng refused to cooperate with the government. Meng next faces indictment on federal wire fraud charges, but, in a political sense, the jury’s out on whether his arrest will affect the political aspirations or fund-raising abilities of his daughter, Queens Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who is running for Congress. Grace Meng, who won a four-way Democratic primary and is being challenged in the general election by GOP City Councilman Dan Halloran, was quiet on her father’s bust — and follow-up call. She had issued a statement that distanced herself from her father’s actions, and urged him to cooperate fully with the feds.

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