Attorney

The Times Union reported in January 2020 that the investigation had examined whether McLaughlin, 58, had given bonuses or pay increases to former staffers in the state Assembly in exchange for them returning some of the funds to him, or using the money to donate to his campaign account, according to multiple people who were interviewed by investigators.  

McLaughlin has not yet been accused of wrongdoing, but people familiar with the investigation said there is expected to be court activity in the coming days.

Before he was elected county executive in 2017, McLaughlin had been a four-term assemblyman serving from 2011 through 2017. In the Assembly, he maintained a small staff that at times included members of his campaign team, including Jennifer R. Polaro, his former longtime campaign treasurer, and Nick Wilock, who served as his Assembly campaign manager and remains employed as a Republican aide in that chamber. Polaro and Wilock both served as McLaughlin's chief of staff at different times.

Polaro did not respond to a request for comment. Wilock said he was contacted by investigators in the case more than two years ago but has not heard anything since. He declined further comment.

Campaign filings indicate that Wilock donated to McLaughlin's Assembly campaign account only in 2012, when he gave $500 that November. Polaro, who also worked for McLaughlin at that time, made two donations that October — 10 days apart — of $2,500 and $1,800. A year earlier, her husband, Scott, who runs a construction and gravel business, gave McLaughlin $500, according to Board of Elections records.

The investigation by the FBI and state attorney general's office has also focused on McLaughlin's county operations director and closest political confidant, Richard W. Crist. Attorneys for both men could not be reached for comment. McLaughlin and Crist both did not respond to requests for comment this week.

In March 2019, Crist was placed on leave from his $105,000-a-year county job — with McLaughlin's consent — after the Times Union reported that he was a focus of the criminal investigation. Crist returned to work at his county job five months later, and people close to him had claimed the probe found no wrongdoing.

Three people interviewed by investigators within the past eight months said the probe also has focused on the campaign and business dealings of both McLaughlin and Crist, who ran McLaughlin's successful inaugural county executive campaign, but was not involved in his Assembly elections.

In 2019, citing interviews with multiple people familiar with the investigation, the Times Union reported that law enforcement officials were gathering records and conducting interviews on a range of matters related to Crist, including his work with various political campaigns.

aside">> > CAPITAL NEWSPAPERS--newsroom, sometime in the 1960's -- loucks-- (Times Union archive)
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Crist, 54, is a former Troy Record reporter who has run a private political consulting firm, Hudson Valley Strategies, which has been paid more than $300,000 over the past nine years by campaign accounts for dozens of candidates, including several who were elected as judges, sheriffs and state legislators, according to state records.

Two people with knowledge of the investigation said people associated with companies that handled printing jobs for political campaigns — and had been hired at Crist's direction — had been subpoenaed two years ago or interviewed regarding that work. The investigation has focused, in part, on the amount of money those companies were paid in comparison with entries made in Board of Elections filings, the sources said.

Crist has not been accused of wrongdoing. On Monday evening, he was placing calls to Republicans in Rensselaer County alerting them of the pending charges against McLaughlin, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The investigation had also examined whether companies were paid campaign funds for work that Crist would take on with the help of volunteers, the sources said.

Chris Valcik, who operated a company called Custom Graphics that had been used by Crist, confirmed two years ago that he had been interviewed by the FBI about that work.

Source : https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/McLaughlin-to-face-criminal-charges-in-attorney-16662226.php

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