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N.Y. state lawmaker accused of abusing travel, campaign funds

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[October 02, 2014]  NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York state assemblyman who is running unopposed for his 11th term in a district in the New York City borough of Queens was arrested on Wednesday on charges of stealing campaign funds and abusing the state's travel voucher system, authorities said.

Democrat William Scarborough was arraigned hours later in Albany County Supreme Court. He pleaded not guilty to state charges of grand larceny and filing false documents, according to his spokeswoman and a spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Scarborough, 68, was charged in a 23-count state indictment with diverting more than $40,000 from a campaign account and using it for personal expenses between 2007 and 2014.

At a subsequent arraignment in U.S. District Court in Albany, New York, he pleaded not guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and theft.

He was charged in an 11-count federal indictment with improperly claiming more than $40,000 in expenses "for travel that didn't take place," Schneiderman said in a statement.

If convicted of all charges, Scarborough faces up to 37 years in prison, Schneiderman said.

He was released on his own recognizance at both arraignments and ordered to turn over his passport to federal authorities.

"We believe there is a great deal of inaccuracy in the allegations," said Scarborough's lawyer, E. Stewart Jones. "We are at a disadvantage because they have all the records and seized them."

In late March, investigators from the Attorney Generalís Office and FBI raided Scarborough's Albany and Queens offices and home.

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At the time, Scarborough told reporters that investigators were probing whether he had abused the stateís travel voucher system, which reimburses elected officials for certain work-related travel expenses.

Scarborough was first elected to represent New York's 29th district in 1994.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Eric Beech and Peter Cooney)

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