Former Rep. Mario Biaggi, a 10-term New York Democrat who resigned in scandal in 1988 and went to prison for a range of corruption crimes, died Wednesday. He was 97 years old.
The popular Bronx lawmaker, first elected in 1968, was a legendary New York City police officer and hands-on member of Congress who, when he resigned on Aug. 5, 1988, had been endorsed by both the local Democratic and Republican parties. He had been convicted on “a host of racketeering, conspiracy and extortion charges,” Roll Call reported that year, stemming from separate cases. One was related to accepting illegal gifts from a local Democratic leader. Another stemmed from extortion charges related to a South Bronx company, Wedtech Corp.
The House Ethics Committee voted to expel him earlier that year, but a floor vote had been put off to allow his court case to play out. Because of the timing, Biaggi’s name couldn’t be taken off the ballot that year. He lost to now-Rep. Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat, in the primary and then again to Engel in the general election as the GOP nominee.
Biaggi eventually served 26 months in prison and was released in 1991 for health reasons, The New York Times reported . One of the prosecutors of his case was Rudy Giuliani, who went on to become mayor of New York.
He attempted to win his seat back in 1992, but lost to Engel again in the Democratic primary.
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