NEW YORK, AUG. 1 -- A New York state senator was arrested today in the Plaza Hotel after an undercover agent allegedly gave him $150,000 in cash to smuggle out of the country, the FBI said.
Democratic Sen. Andrew Jenkins, who had booked flights for tonight to Brussels and on to Zaire, was arrested after a two-month sting operation, according to Joseph Valiquette, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Manhattan.
Valiquette said that in meetings with an undercover FBI agent posing as an international financier, Jenkins allegedly agreed to carry currency out of the country without filing required federal forms.
It is a federal crime to take more than $10,000 out of the country without notifying the Treasury Department. The law is intended largely to deter money-laundering.
A law enforcement source said Jenkins had been promised a percentage of the cash as payment for taking it out of the country. The source also said Jenkins was aware the money was obtained unlawfully.
Valiquette said, "He had indicated that he had friends in Zaire who could handle it, who could take it."
Jenkins, 46, of Queens, was released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond after arraignment at U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Magistrate Nina Gershon set Aug. 20 for a preliminary hearing.
"I have no comment to make other than that we will maintain my innocence throughout these proceedings," Jenkins said as he left the courthouse.
Valiquette declined to say what prompted the operation. He said it is not alleged that Jenkins had engaged in such transactions before.