NEW YORK (AP) — A powerful New York prison syndicate boss turned inmate is set to free less than half his life sentence in a corruption caseafter a judge ruled this week that the nearly five-year sentence should be reduced.
Norman Seabrook was originally sentenced to 58 months in prison on his federal conviction for accepting bribes to put $20 million in union pension funds into a risky hedge fund. The union lost $19 million.
But US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said Seabrook’s sentence was now unfair – as a co-defendant appealed and had his own prison sentence reduced to just over a year.
“There is now an unfair disparity” between the defendants’ sentences, Hellerstein wrote in a notice Thursday. Hellerstein himself initially convicted the two defendants.
Seabrook, 63, served about 21 months. He remains in custody at this time, as Hellerstein has suspended the decision for 10 days while prosecutors decide whether to appeal.
Prosecutors declined to comment on Saturday. A message has been sent to Seabrook’s attorney.
As head of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for two decades, Seabrook became an influential political player and wielded enormous influence over the operation of the Rikers Island prison complex. He was earning up to $300,000 a year.
Prosecutors said he accepted a $60,000 bribe – delivered in a luxury Ferragamo handbag – in exchange for the syndicate’s investment in the hedge fund. Seabrook maintained that he had done nothing wrong and that the union had simply made a bad investment.
After a 2017 annulment of the trialseabrook wassentenced the following year, although he ultimately did not have to report to prison until May 2021.
Meanwhile, co-defendant Murray Huberfeld, a hedge fund manager, pleaded guilty to arranging the payment.
Hellerstein sentenced Huberfeld to 30 months, aiming for a “rough equivalence” between his sentence and Seabrook’s, as the judge explained in his decision on Thursday.
Then Huberfeld successfully appealed his sentence, which was reduced to 13 months.
In light of this development, Hellerstein concluded that Seabrook’s release “now reflects the seriousness of Seabrook’s crime and lack of timely acceptance of responsibility, while addressing what would otherwise be an unfair sentencing disparity.” “between the defendants.
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