Jimmy Meng pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charges

| mchan@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/File photo
THE COURIER/File photo

Former Assemblymember Jimmy Meng (far right) stands with his daughter Congressmember-elect Grace Meng (second to right) in a recent photo.

Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to federal wire fraud charges, according to the FBI.

Meng, the father to newly elected Congressmember and current Assemblymember Grace Meng, reportedly entered the plea on November 14 at around 2 p.m. He was arrested on July 24 for attempting to scam $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant, federal officials said.

“I am deeply saddened by the events surrounding my father the last several months,” the congressmember-elect said in a statement. “Today, he has taken full responsibility for his actions and I support his decision. This has been a difficult time for our family and we continue to pray for guidance in the coming months. My family hopes to continue to move past this chapter in their lives.”

The disgraced ex-legislator allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to be the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

“Give it to me and I will give it to them,” Meng allegedly told the defendant during a July 17 recorded telephone call, according to a criminal complaint.

Meng was caught red-handed on July 24 at his Flushing lumber yard accepting the fruit basket, which held thousands of dollars in cash from the defendant, who was cooperating with FBI special agents, authorities said. He was immediately placed under arrest and was released the following day on a $1 million bond secured by his two homes in Bayside and Flushing, said Bob Nardoza, spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Assemblymember Grace Meng, who has held her father’s old Flushing seat since 2008, was elected to Congress last week in a 2-to-1 landslide.

The then-congressional candidate originally distanced herself from her father in July when news broke of his arrest, saying in a statement she was “independent” of him and “always have been, always will be.”

She is not accused of any wrongdoings and is not tied to her father’s case.