NEW YORK — Democratic Rep. Mario Biaggi and former Brooklyn party boss Meade Esposito were indicted today on federal charges of bribery and conspiracy stemming from their efforts to help a foundering ship repair company.
Biaggi, 69, and Esposito, 80, are accused of trying to obtain favorable treatment from the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard and New York City for the Coastal Dry Dock and Repair Corp. in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Biaggi "attempted to influence the decisions and actions of departments and agencies of the United States and other members of Congress" on the company's behalf, the indictment said.
Biaggi also is under investigation by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and by the Bronx district attorney over alleged influence-peddling for a Bronx defense contractor, Wedtech Inc.
Biaggi was first elected to the 19th Congressional District of New York, which includes parts of the Bronx and suburban Westchester County, in 1968. He is a member of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee and chairman of the House subcommittee on merchant marine affairs.
Esposito was chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Committee from 1969 until he retired in 1984. The committee is the largest county organization in the nation.
Coastal was one of the largest clients of Esposito's insurance company.
The indictment says that in return for Biaggi's agreement to try to speed government payments for Coastal and other actions between March, 1984, and last June, Esposito paid vacation expenses for Biaggi in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the holiday season of December, 1984.
The indictment charges that shortly after the FBI interviewed Biaggi on June 2, 1986, he tried in a telephone conversation with Esposito to obstruct a grand jury investigation by having Esposito agree to lie about their conduct.
If they are convicted on bribery, conspiracy and other charges, Biaggi will face up to 32 years in jail and Esposito up to 27 years. Both could be fined up to $250,000.
Esposito reportedly has been the target of federal investigators since his name turned up in a probe of connections between organized crime figures and politicians.