From most accounts, Schoen LaBombard is a smooth talker.
He learned how to speak the lingo of police officers and studied their techniques. He then used his talents to coax a 33-year-old a female escort into believing he was an investigator from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office involved in a bogus prostitution sting operation, according to authorities.
“He knew all the jargon,” Albany County Sheriff James Campbell said Thursday. “This guy is a professional scam artist.”
LaBombard, 41, of Menands, was arrested on felony charges of kidnapping, grand larceny, criminal impersonation, coercion and rape after he was arrested and charged with trying to scam the escort again at the Days Inn off Nott Terrace in Schenectady. He was arraigned on the charges in Guilderland Town Court and ordered held without bail in Albany County Jail.
The charges this week are among a string of scams LaBombard is accused of orchestrating in the Capital Region and across upstate New York.
In the most recent Albany County case, investigators say LaBombard contacted an escort service and spent an hour with the woman at a Guilderland hotel the day before Thanksgiving. He had sex with the woman, paid her $250 and asked her to return the following morning.
When the escort returned, LaBombard identified himself as a sheriff’s investigator, showed her a Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department non-driver’s personal identification card and then informed her she was under police surveillance. He then advised her she could avoid arrest if she paid him $2,500, a price he identified as the cost for the ongoing surveillance.
“She was under the impression he was a police officer and that everything was going to come out into the open,” Campbell said. “He even made her believe he was talking into a police radio.”
After receiving the cash, LaBombard coerced the escort into having sex at a hotel room in Colonie, investigators said. He would later claim she could clear her name of federal charges if she paid him more money, police allege.
Last weekend, the escort informed her husband about what had happened with LaBombard, and he then contacted the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies arranged a sting operation in Schenectady and arrested LaBombard, who is accused of seeking another $2,500 from the woman to clear her name with “the feds,” according to investigators.
LONG RAP SHEET
The charges are only the most recent in a string of cases LaBombard has open in Albany County. In 2004, he was arrested in Colonie on the charges of possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny and falsifying business records.
The charges apparently stemmed from a hunting camouflage clothing business LaBombard had started with two partners in 2002, according to published reports. LaBombard was accused of stealing a company check, forging his partners’ signatures and cashing it for $8,550.
Two years later, he was arrested in the city of Albany on the charges of identity theft and grand larceny. Then in March 2007 he was arrested in Menands on yet another grand larceny charge.
Both cases are still pending, according to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office. Apparently, however, LaBombard remained free because he was cooperating in investigations in other counties.
In addition, LaBombard was charged with three felony counts of grand larceny in Rensselaer County after allegedly stealing checks from his employer in 2004. State police in Schodack arrested him after an investigation into the theft of a company checkbook.
LaBombard’s most publicized scam dates back to 1994, when he bilked more than $27,000 from businesses and residents living in the Batavia area outside of Rochester. LaBombard allegedly used a published news article about himself to convince people he was a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team and in need of sponsors for an upcoming trip to Europe.
Though once a member of the U.S. Bobsled Federation, LaBombard failed a physical in 1993 and was left off the team, according to stories in the Batavia Daily News. He was subsequently convicted of forgery, scheming to defraud and criminal possession of a forged instrument.
After serving six months in jail, he was placed on five years’ probation and ordered to repay $27,709 in restitution to his victims. But before long, he was arrested again, this time in Lake Placid on charges that he burglarized his grandmother’s house and stole checks.
In 1997, he agreed to serve a little more than a year in state prison for violating the terms of his probation. He was eligible for parole in 1999, according to state Department of Correctional Services records.
Campbell said LaBombard is well known among Albany sheriff’s deputies. When he inquired about the man to a bailiff at the jail, the deputy knew exactly who he was talking about.
“Right away he thought about [LaBombard],” Campbell said.