New York State Senator Thomas W. Libous Indicted by a White Plains Federal Grand Jury for Lying to the FBI
Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office and Andrew W. Vale the Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Shantelle P. Kitchen, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation (“IRS”), announced today that a grand jury sitting in White Plains has returned an Indictment charging New York State Senator THOMAS W. LIBOUS with making false statements to the FBI in connection with a federal grand jury investigation about payments he allegedly caused an Albany lobbying firm to funnel to his son, Matthew Libous. Matthew Libous, an attorney, was also separately charged with tax crimes, including his failure to identify the source of payments he received from the lobbying firm.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “As alleged, Thomas Libous took advantage of his position as Senator and Chairman of the Transportation Committee by corruptly causing lobbyists, who wanted Libous’s influence to benefit their clients, to funnel money through a law firm to his son where Libous has gotten his son a position. He then tried to cover up his corrupt conduct by lying to FBI Agents about his knowledge of his son’s arrangement with the firm, as the Indictment describes. Public servants should serve the public first, not themselves and their families. This Office will continue to pursue elected officials who attempt to take corrupt advantage of their positions.”
Assistant FBI Director George Venizelos stated: “As alleged, rather than serve the public he took an oath to serve, Senator Libous used his political position to garner favorable treatment for himself and his son. Lying to FBI Agents is a serious offense and his alleged criminal conduct is an injustice to the community he represents. The investigation and indictment of Senator Libous demonstrates the FBI’s ongoing commitment to weed out public corruption at all levels of government and bring to justice those who betray the public’s trust.”
Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal investigation Shantelle P. Kitchen stated: “IRS-Criminal Investigation will thoroughly investigate those who wilfully violate the income tax laws and obstruct tax administration and we will work with the Department of Justice to see that they are prosecuted. While prosecuting violators is essential to making the tax system work, such prosecutions also reassure the confidence of honest taxpayers in the tax system. We are committed to ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment:
A federal grand jury in White Plains was investigating allegations that THOMAS LIBOUS had obtained a job for a family member at a Westchester law firm (“the Law Firm”) in exchange for a promise to refer business to the firm and had arranged for an Albany lobbying firm that regularly lobbied him to secretly pay the law firm $50,000 per year to defray the cost of Libous’s son’s salary and lease of a Range Rover. The lobbying firm specialized in transportation issues and THOMAS LIBOUS served as the Chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee at the time. The Indictment further alleges that THOMAS LIBOUS told a partner of the Law Firm that the firm would have to “build a new wing” to accommodate the business he would refer to it if it hired his son.
Special Agents of the FBI interviewed THOMAS LIBOUS on June 24, 2010, as part of the grand jury’s investigation. According to the Indictment, THOMAS LIBOUS made the following false statements to the agents during the interview:
- he could not recall how his son began to work at the Law Firm;
- no deals were made to get his son the job at the Law Firm;
- he was not aware that the lobbying firm had paid any part of his son’s salary at the Law Firm;
- he never promised to refer work to the Law Firm;
- he was not involved in his son’s decision to work at the Law Firm;
- he had no business or personal relationship with the Law Firm; and
- he did not know of any relationship between the lobbying firm and the Law Firm.
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THOMAS LIBOUS, 61, of Binghamton, New York, faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
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Also announced today is the return of a second Indictment, returned by a grand jury sitting in White Plains, charging MATTHEW LIBOUS with obstructing the IRS in its administration of the tax laws and subscribing to false tax returns.
According to the allegations in the Indictment:
MATTHEW LIBOUS, 32, was employed at a Westchester law firm in early 2006. At the same time, MATTHEW LIBOUS received legal fees directly from clients for whom he provided legal services without the law firm’s knowledge. After the law firm terminated MATTHEW LIBOUS’ employment, MATTHEW LIBOUS continued to receive legal fees from clients which he failed to report on his federal income tax return. The Indictment alleges that MATTHEW LIBOUS failed to accurately identify the source of payments he received from an Albany lobbying firm that were funneled to him through the Westchester law firm. The Indictment also alleges that MATTHEW LIBOUS failed to report a total of $57,580 in legal fees and other income on his 2006, 2007 and 2008 tax returns.
In 2008, MATTHEW LIBOUS became an owner of Wireless Construction Solutions, LLC (“WCS”), a Westchester-based company that installed and serviced cellular telephone towers. The Indictment alleges that from 2008 through 2011, MATTHEW LIBOUS caused WCS to pay personal expenses on his behalf, including expenses for multiple casino trips, vacations, iTune purchases, a gym membership, an Internet dating subscription, spa treatments, visits to tanning salons, clothing, food and student loan payments. According to the Indictment, MATTHEW LIBOUS caused WCS to pay $244,218 in personal expenses from 2008 through 2011. The Indictment alleges that MATTHEW LIBOUS failed to report any of this income on his tax return.
The Indictment charges MATTHEW LIBOUS with one count of obstructing the administration of the tax laws, which carries a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment, and five counts of subscribing to false tax returns, each of which carries a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and the IRS.
These prosecutions are being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Perry A. Carbone and James McMahon are in charge of the prosecutions.
The charges contained in the Indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.