Before Sex Abuse Arrest, Brooklyn Lawmaker’s Aide Received Nearly $200,000 in State Payments to His Company
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is investigating 82 disbursements to a company founded by former Bensonhurst Assemblymember Peter Abbate’s statehouse staffer.
A company established by Joseph Brady, who led an upstate biker gang while serving as a top legislative aide to a Brooklyn state lawmaker, received nearly $200,000 in state government payments in the years before his 2020 arrest for sex abuse charges, according to reimbursement records obtained by THE CITY.
The state comptroller’s office is investigating those payments, most of which went to Excelsior Waste and Recycling LLC, a Rensselaer-based firm that Brady filed incorporation paperwork for less than three weeks before the government payouts began.
The financial records, which THE CITY obtained from the comptroller’s office through a Freedom of Information Law request, show Brady’s waste management firm received 82 payments, mostly through the Square payment platform, for unspecified “professional services” between October 2017 and May 2019. Multiple payments — which averaged $2,377 each — went to the company nearly every month.
The transactions were “state procurement card payments,” according to a spokesperson for the comptroller’s office, Matt Sweeney. The state issues procurement credit cards to some employees to allow small purchases of goods and services.
A year and five months after the final payment, Brady, a legislative director for then-Assemblymember Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn), was arrested and fired from his government position after an 18-year-old woman and her 16-year-old boyfriend accused him of drugging and raping her. The pair also alleged that he displayed a gun when they attempted to escape his home.
While a felony sex abuse charge against Brady was dropped last December, he still faces several misdemeanors, including one sex abuse count. Brady’s lawyer, Adam Eggleston, said the case was hobbled from the outset by witness credibility issues and contends the case will be resolved in the “very near future.”
Albany District Attorney David Soares’ office has remained silent since the charge reduction — a move that fueled speculation from Abbate that his former staffer was cooperating with law enforcement on a larger case tied to biker violence.
In an interview with THE CITY, Eggleston denied any cooperation yesterday. He said that Brady had not even been approached to cooperate, and that such comments put his client “in great danger.”
In an email, Sweeney, a spokesperson for State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, stated that the agency could not comment on specifics of the agency’s probe because it is “ongoing.”
Rachael Fauss, a senior research analyst with the good government group Reinvent Albany, said that the payments posed a clear conflict of interest and speculated that the comptroller’s attention could point to the possible misuse of public funds.
“Their job is to protect taxpayers and to make sure that public dollars are being used appropriately,” Fauss said. “If they are investigating someone related to state payments, there’s a concern that taxpayer dollars are not being used appropriately. That is their job and they take that responsibility very seriously.”
Abbate said that he and his staff were briefly questioned by comptroller officials after the aide’s arrest in 2020, but had not heard from the office since.
Abbate, a once-powerful Bensonhurst Democrat who chaired the Assembly’s Committee on Government Employees, said he did not know about Brady’s side business and questioned how his former employee could have been doing outside work while he had a full-time job in the statehouse.
“He had no time,” said Abbate, who suggested that Brady would not have had “any idea of the business world.”
He added, “I know he wasn’t picking up the waste.”
Eggleston told THE CITY that he was not aware of law enforcement approaching his client to discuss matters outside of the pending criminal case.
The attorney rejected Abbate’s suggestion in an interview earlier this week that the dismissal of the felony sex abuse charge against his client raised questions about whether Brady was cooperating in some sort of larger probe into incidents of biker violence. Brady co-founded an upstate chapter of the motorcycle club “East Coast Syndicate,” some of whose members police have investigated for alleged drug use and violence. In 2019, he was also questioned by law enforcement over the death of a Saratoga County biker from another crew.
On Wednesday, Eggleston criticized Abbate for floating that possibility, vociferously denied that law enforcement had ever offered any sort of cooperation deal to Brady, and said that his client had never contemplated or accepted any such arrangement.
The attorney said that his client had already been offered a plea deal that would result in a violation — a non-criminal resolution even lower than a misdemeanor conviction.
“Essentially, I believe that it’s fair to say that some of the information provided by the alleged individuals involved was shown to be false,” he said, declining to go into details.
Along with not commenting on the criminal case, Soares’ office did not respond to questions about whether it was cooperating on the comptroller’s probe. Spokespeople also did not respond to questions about Brady’s state payments and whether their agency was working with the state comptroller on its probe.