A former state assemblyman was arrested yesterday on federal wire fraud charges for allegedly offering to get a sentence on tax charges reduced to little or no jail time in exchange for $80,000. Jimmy Meng, 68, was arrested outside his Queens lumber yard as he accepted a fruit basket containing $80,000 to buy his assistance in the tax case.
According to a complaint filed yesterday before Eastern District Magistrate Judge Joan Azrack by FBI special agent Amy Hirina, federal authorities believe Meng did not contact assistant district attorneys in Manhattan on the person’s behalf, as he claimed he would when arranging for the payment. “Rather, your deponent respectfully submits…that there is probable cause to believe that Meng intended to defraud the [confidential witness] to keep the bribe money for himself,” Hirina’s complaint stated.
The informant began working with the FBI soon after contacting Meng at the behest of friends, who said the ex-assemblyman might be able to get the informant’s sentence reduced on the tax charges. Hirina said the target of Meng’s alleged fraud was facing at least two years in prison on a state tax charge. Meng promised to intercede to get the jail sentence reduced to one year. At one point, Hirina said, Meng told the informant that he could avoid jail time altogether by paying $120,000.
Meng was the first Asian-American in the state Legislature during his only term in the Assembly in 2005 and 2006. His daughter Grace Meng now holds the seat. In June, she won a four-way congressional Democratic primary to succeed retiring Representative Gary Ackerman in a redrawn district.