William Boyland Jr. came out of the courthouse three weeks ago pumping his fist in the air as a sign of victory over charges stemming from bribes. It was also a sign that the embattled assemblyman’s family name had yet again been saved from the stain of scandal.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. It’s a great day,” Boyland said to the media outside of the courthouse weeks ago. “Thank God. We did a lot of praying. I told someone last night, I don’t think there’s anything stronger or more powerful on this earth than a praying mother. My mother was incredible.”
But Boyland’s relief and happiness were short-lived.
In a twist of fate, handcuffs were put back on Boyland, who is now facing new federal corruption charges.
His recent acquittal made it look like he may have a future after all-he had been facing up to 25 years in prison for allegedly taking bribes from a major health care network.
This time, the FBI claims they have recorded evidence of Boyland trying to make a real estate deal with undercover agents.
According to the complaint by the FBI, Boyland allegedly solicited more than $250,000 in bribes and accepted thousands of dollars in bribe money in exchange for performing official acts for agents who were posing as businessmen.
“Between August 2010 and June 2011, Boyland solicited and accepted a stream of bribes from a carnival promoter (“CW”) and two undercover FBI agents (“UC1” and “UC2″), whom Boyland believed to be out-of-state businessmen and real estate developers. In exchange, Boyland agreed to take official action to secure business opportunities for CW, UC1 and UC2,” the complaint read.
In one alleged scheme that took place last August, Boyland is said to have offered to secure carnival locations in his district. He is said to have claimed that he had the New York City Department of Housing Preservation “locked up.” Boyland talked with one agent about ways he could be “compensated” for his assistance, including funneling payments through a nonprofit organization he controlled, which he could disguise as consultation fees.
Another recording reveals Boyland looking for a $250,000 payment for a scheme that would involve buying a Brooklyn hospital at a discount, refurbishing and buying it back under another not-for-profit he controlled. Boyland is heard on the recording saying, “I got a middle guy by the way…I’ve gotta stay clean…I’ve got a bag man,” expressing his need to stay hidden in the deal.
Boyland’s attorney, Richard Rosenburg, told the AmNews that while he was not able to speak in depth about the charges, Boyland denies all of the new allegations.
“Obviously, we have to examine the allegations to defend him,” Rosenburg said. “He’s holding up. This is the government’s best spin on things and we will deal with it down the line.”
Boyland is now facing 30 years in prison if found guilty of the new charges. A spokeswoman from Boyland’s office told the AmNews, “No comment,” on the new allegations.
“As detailed in the criminal complaint, the extent of the charged corruption is staggering,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. “The defendant had a strong political legacy, the trust of his community and the privilege of serving it. Not content with these many benefits, the defendant is alleged to have auctioned the power of his seat in the Assembly to the highest bidder, for his own personal gain and to the potential detriment of the voters who elected him to office.”
In a recent interview with the AmNews prior to his latest arrest, Boyland said the verdict in the earlier case had proved more than just his innocence-it had helped clear his name.
I’m happy,” he said. “I’m overjoyed that the jury saw what we saw all along. There were never any secret deals.”
The new case again puts Boyland and his family in the spotlight following a series of damning reports from the media and various editorials on the earlier charges. Boyland recently spoke to the AmNews about his family, the earlier charges and the general climate for politicians in general.
“It’s not just me, it’s a lot of elected officials. This is a bad time for elected officials, from the federal to the state to the city. When the economy is bad, people are looking for someone to blame,” he said.
Coming from political royalty, Boyland’s name is no stranger to the Black community and carries some weight in Brooklyn. Though a major street in Brooklyn bears the family name, many are now saying the clan has run out of steam when it comes to politics.
A 2005 New York Times article called the family the “Kennedys of Brownsville,” hailing their long-standing history in the neighborhood.
Starting at the top, the Boylands came onto the political scene in the late 1970s, when Thomas Boyland served as representative of the 55th New York State Assembly District. He held the post from 1977 to 1982, when he died.
William Boyland Sr., his brother, followed him into office, winning the same seat in the Assembly and serving for more than 20 years. William Boyland Jr. took over the seat from his father in 2005.
Boyland’s sister, Tracy, followed in the family business, holding office in the New York City Council representing Brooklyn. She made an unsuccessful bid at a political comeback during the last city election. Their father also tried to take a City Council seat in 2005-coming out of his own retirement-but was unsuccessful. Darlene Meely currently holds the seat.
Tracy Boyland had her own controversies while in the City Council-she had a poor attendance record and failed to draft any legislation while representing the 41st District.
With their recent political record, the reputation and legacy of the Boylands have been tainted over the last few years, and they have not been the force they once were in the Brownsville and Brooklyn communities.
The last time Boyland made any headlines aside from those about his trial was when he and his young son were shot at while in his vehicle in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Before that, Boyland was the target of neighborhood criticism after he drove by and waved to a group of mourners at a vigil for a slain neighborhood teen.
Conversations with Boyland’s legislative colleagues find a somewhat unflattering description of Boyland and his tenure in the New York State Assembly. His colleagues have labeled him a “back bencher” when it comes to his political status and relevance. Little is heard from Boyland on the issues of crime and joblessness, two top issues of concern in the neighborhoods in his district.
However, in a recent newsletter to his constituents, Boyland said he is working with various community groups and organizations to cut down crime and get more jobs in his district. He said he is working with other elected officials and collaborating with community organizations and groups to improve matters.
According to NYPD numbers, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights and Bushwick have some of the highest crime rates in the city. Boyland’s opinions on jobs and crime and how he would like to see the problems alleviated are rarely heard, according to his critics.
“I’m not quite sure what [my critics] are saying,” he said. “We are out there. My office is right on the ground. We walk the streets-and if I’m not there, my staff is. I’m very accessible. Folks come to my house and come to my church. They know where to find me.”
Some point out that when a recent string of Jewish-focused hate crimes took place in Brooklyn-Crown Heights, one of the communities he represents, has a large Jewish community-Boyland was not seen arm in arm with the elected officials looking to combat the problem. To be fair to Boyland, he was dealing with his court issues at the same time-and with the new charges, it looks like Boyland will remain distracted for the foreseeable future.