NEW YORK (AP) — The former union boss of the nation’s largest union of correctional officers may have received too much of a prison sentence when he was ordered to spend nearly five years behind the bars for corruption, said a judge.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who sentenced Seabrook to four years and 10 months in prison in early 2019, said in a ruling Friday that the length of Norman Seabrook’s prison sentence deserved a second look. He noted disparities in the sentencing of Seabrook, who is black, and the co-conspirators who are white.
But he also said in a written ruling that the former head of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association did not deserve a new trial after his 2018 conviction on conspiracy and honest service wire fraud charges.
Prosecutors said he took $60,000 in bribes in 2014 to funnel $20 million in union funds to a risky hedge fund. All but $1 million was lost. Seabrook said there was no evidence he ever intended to “lose a dime” of union members’ money.
Seabrook, 62, is scheduled for release in July 2025 from Beckley Correctional Facility in Beckley, West Virginia. He was arrested in June 2016 after serving as an agent of power in New York for more than two decades, representing the guards of the prison system of 10,000 inmates in the city.
In October 2021, Seabrook asked Hellerstein to grant him a new trial on several grounds, including ineffective assistance from counsel and unfair rulings against him, all of which Hellerstein said in his decision on Friday are “good below reality.
But Hellerstein said Seabrook’s claims that his sentence was disproportionately harsher than the sentences given to his co-conspirators “may have some merit”.
The judge noted that a co-conspirator, Murray Huberfeld, who is white and was originally sentenced to 2½ years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding his own investment firm, was eventually sentenced to seven months of detention after the 2nd US Circuit Court. of Appeals decided that the amount of financial harm caused by his crimes should be measured differently from what he had when he received the more than two-year sentence.
“The result is a significant disparity in sentencing, an appearance of arbitrariness, and potential disrespect from the community due to the appearance of racial differentiation,” Hellerstein wrote.
Larry Neumeister, Associated Press