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Jury Convicts Rep. Biaggi on Some Counts

September 22, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — A federal jury today convicted Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.) of obstructing justice, accepting a gratuity, and illegal interstate travel, but acquitted him of more serious bribery and conspiracy charges.

The jury at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn also found former Brooklyn Democratic leader Meade Esposito guilty of paying a gratuity and illegal interstate travel charges, but innocent of conspiracy and bribery.

The charges of obstruction of justice and interstate travel are each punishable by up to five years in prison; accepting or paying an illegal gratuity carries a two-year term.

The key issue in the case was whether vacation trips for Biaggi, paid for by Esposito, were intended to influence Biaggi's official acts as a congressman. Defense lawyers argued during the three-week trial that Esposito, 80, was a generous man who often gave gifts to his friends, like Biaggi.

The 69-year-old, 10-term congressman was accused of accepting from Esposito vacation expenses to a Florida spa for himself and a companion, Barbara Barlow. In return, Biaggi allegedly lobbied city and federal officials on behalf of Coastal Dry Dock and Repair Corp., the second-largest client of Esposito's insurance company.

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