McLaughlin lawyer trying to dismiss campaign funds fraud case
Brendan J. Lyons reports in the Times Union that the lawyer for Rensselaer County Executive Steven McLaughlin wants a judge to dismiss a two-count felony indictment against the former state assemblyperson for allegedly using campaign funds to pay off a $3,500 debt to a former aide. After winning his second election as county executive in November, a month later McLaughlin was indicted for using campaign funds to pay off a debt to his former Assembly chief of staff, Jennifer R. Polaro. She was arrested in March 2020 for grand larceny, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor, for allegedly withdrawing funds from McLaughlin's campaign account and spending the money at Rivers Casino in Schenectady nearly five years ago. Polaro pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor larceny charge in Schenectady City Court two years ago. Now Polaro is cooperating with investigators, and testified before the grand jury that indicted McLaughlin. But Benjamin W. Hill, McLaughlin's attorney, says McLaughlin's payments were kosher. "The people adduced no proof whatsoever in the grand jury, circumstantial or direct, that the $5,000 payment to HVS was fraudulent, unearned, unauthorized, or otherwise illegitimate," Hill wrote in a motion to dismiss the case. "Rather, all of the proof submitted to the grand jury focused on the existence of a debt owed to Ms. Polaro and HVS's $3,500 payment to her." The attorney general's responding motion says, "It is elementary that McLaughlin could have paid the debt to Polaro directly from his personal funds. Instead, McLaughlin set into motion a scheme whereby (his) campaign funds were used to settle this debt." Read more about this story in the Times Union.