Five months after being indicted for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, the former chief of staff to City Councilmember Kendall Stewart may be trying to work out a plea deal.
As reported in the September 12th New York Daily News, a lawyer for Asquith Reid said during a recent court appearance that he did not intend to try the case revolving around Reid and another former Stewart staffer, Joycinth “Sue” Anderson, who were charged with embezzling $145,000 of $356,000 in city funds Stewart’s office earmarked to the Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund. The fund is named in memory of Reid’s deceased daughter.
“If he’s going to make a deal, especially at this juncture, he’s got to give them something they really want,” noted one attorney unconnected to the investigation, pointing out that there have been references in the past to unnamed “co-conspirators.”
However, attorney John Moscow – who represents Reid – would not confirm that a plea deal was being negotiated. “There’s no plea deal,” he told this paper. Asked if one was in the works, he said, “I don’t know.
“There’s a great deal less to this than meets the eye,” he added. “There’s really nothing there.”
Contacted for comment, Stewart said that he had been told that, “There’s an understanding that all the money was spent on CBOs (community based organizations) in the community, and they are trying to resolve it. It was that he didn’t have all the paperwork at the time of the indictment. Since then, I understand, they’ve gotten most of the paperwork, and he has produced more than enough information now to clear himself.”
Should Reid be cleared of all charges, Stewart said, he would take him back on staff. “He’s done great work in the community,” Stewart stressed. “I don’t think he would be someone who would embezzle funds or something like that.”
The original indictments were announced on April 16th by federal prosecutors and the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI).
Subsequently, federal prosecutors and DOI on June 24th announced a “superceding indictment” relating to two other CBOs, Community Opportunity and Resource Development (CORD) and Central Brooklyn Community Services (CBCS), both of which received discretionary councilmanic funding through Stewart’s office.
Reid and Anderson were also charged with two counts of witness tampering.
Stewart has repeatedly said he is not a target of the investigation.
If convicted of all the charges, Reid faces up to 80 years in prison.
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