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Queens political hall of shame


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

This New York City election season features not one, but two formerly disgraced politicians asking voters to give them a second chance.

Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner, who announced he is running for mayor in May, and former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who launched his bid for city comptroller last week, were both forced to resign after sexual scandals.

They’re not the only ones in the political hall of shame. Here’s a recap of some recent Queens electeds who have been caught in their own scandals.

State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran

State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran are still fighting off bombshell accusations they had an elaborate scheme to rig the 2013 mayoral election.

The two were among six officials arrested by the FBI on April 2.

Smith, a registered Democrat, needed consent from three of the city’s five GOP chairmen to run for mayor as a Republican. He allegedly bribed GOP officials to get on the ticket.

Feds say Halloran pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash for setting up meetings between Smith and GOP officials. He also offered up councilmember item cash in exchange for bribes, prosecutors said.

Smith, elected to the State Senate in 2000, was the chair of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) before his power was revoked shortly after the arrest.

Halloran has been the Republican incumbent in Council District 19 since 2009. He was stripped of his committee assignments and ability to allocate funds. He said he would not seek reelection this year.

The two have denied wrongdoing. Their cases are ongoing.

Shirley Huntley

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley was arrested and charged last August with two felonies and a misdemeanor for drafting a fake letter to show that a sham nonprofit group, the Parents Information Network, used a $30,000 state grant for “workshops.”

Despite calls for her to resign following the arrest, Huntley continued with her reelection campaign, but lost her seat to then-Councilmember James Sanders in the 2012 Democratic Primary. She had held the seat since 2007.

Though she initially pleaded not guilty, she pleaded guilty to the charges almost six months after her arrest. In May, she was sentenced to one year and one day in jail plus three years probation.

The same month, it was revealed that Huntley secretly recorded the conversations of elected officials while she was still in office at the request of federal authorities.

Jimmy Meng

Former Assemblymember Jimmy Meng was arrested by the FBI in July 2012 and charged with bribery.

Meng, 69, was the first Asian-American to serve in the New York State legislature. He represented Flushing from 2005 to 2006 and is the father to Congressmember Grace Meng.

Feds said Meng solicited $80,000 in bribes from a state court defendant who had been charged with state tax crimes and sought Meng’s help to reduce the sentence.

Meng was caught red-handed at his Flushing lumber yard accepting a fruit basket filled with cash from the defendant, who was cooperating with FBI agents.

He pleaded guilty last November and served his one month jail sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was released on April 18.

Meng is currently serving four months of house arrest and two years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $30,000 in fines and serve 750 hours of community service.

Hiram Monserrate

Former Councilmember and State Senator Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months in prison in December 2012 after pleading guilty to charges that he misappropriated more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funding to finance his failed 2006 run for state Senate.

The money was directed to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment (LIBRE), a non-profit in his council district at the time. The discretionary funds, which are drawn from city taxpayer dollars, were used to pay employees of the non-profit to collect signatures, work on his Senate campaign and conduct a voter registration drive.

Monserrate, who was elected to the state Senate in 2008 after eight years in the City Council, was expelled from the seat in 2010 after being convicted of domestic assault on his girlfriend. He lost the subsequent special election to state Senator Jose Peralta.

Anthony Seminerio

FBI agents arrested longtime Queens Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio in September 2008 after an investigation found that he that he took nearly $1 million from hospitals, a school and other entities for actions he undertook as a member of the State Assembly. A grand jury indicted him a month later.

In June 2009, he resigned from his seat after 30 years in the Assembly and pleaded guilty.

He was sentenced in February 2010 to six years in prison.

Seminerio passed away in January 2011 at age 75.

Brian McLaughlin

In March 2008, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin, a seven-term politician and former head of the New York City Central Labor Council (CLC), pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $2.2 million in funds from people he worked for and served along with numerous organizations.

Those included the CLC, the state of New York and even a number of nonprofits.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Following his 2006 arrest, he left office at the end of the year after serving in the Assembly since 1993.

Alan Hevesi

In December 2006, former Queens Assemblymember and State Comptroller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty to a class E felony defrauding the state government by using a state employee as a personal chauffeur for his ailing wife.

Hevesi, who resigned as comptroller the same month he pleaded guilty, received the maximum four-year sentence.

After serving 20 months behind bars, Hevesi was released from prison. He will remain on parole until April 2015.

Dennis Gallagher

First elected in 2001, City Councilmember Dennis Gallagher resigned in March 2008 after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, admitting that he sexually abused a woman in his office in Middle Village in July 2007 while he was intoxicated.

The victim later filed a civil suit against him.

 

 

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Ex-councilmember Anthony Como replaces indicted Queens GOP vice chair Vince Tabone


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember Anthony Como will become the new executive vice chair of the Queens GOP, replacing indicted attorney Vince Tabone.

GOP chair Phil Ragusa confirmed Como would be taking over, saying the former city legislator would be a good fit.

“I know Anthony for a long time,” Ragusa said. “He was our City Council candidate we ran against Liz Crowley. I had extensive conversations with him.”

Ragusa said the agreement to install Como was mutual. His experience as an elected official would make him a good fit for the party, he said.

“I think he’s going to do a fine job,” Ragusa said. “He knows the political process like I know the political process.”

Tabone was arrested on April 2 in connection with charges that he took bribe money to help get State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, on the mayoral ticket as a Republican.

GOP Councilmember Dan Halloran is also accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes to sway party chairs to sign off on Smith’s Republican run.

Como served in the City Council for about six months, replacing disgraced Councilmember Dennis Gallagher in June 2008. He lost the general election to now-Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley for District 30 in December of that year.

He previously served as commissioner of the Queens Board of Elections, and then president of the New York City Board of Elections. He also worked as an assistant district attorney and was chief counsel to former State Senator Serphin Maltese.

In 2010, he made an unsuccessful bid at unseating incumbent State Senator Joseph Addaboo in District 15.

“I look forward to working with Chairman Ragusa to strengthen the organization to ensure that NYC has representation on both sides of the aisle,” Como said in a statement. “I will be contacting our district leaders, party members, and loyal Republicans to let them know that we are energized, motivated and moving in a direction in which we can all be proud.”

When asked if Ragusa believes Como and his years of government experience would breathe new life into the party, the chair said the GOP was still strong and functioning.

“We’re all here,” Ragusa said. “We’re working hard. Queens County is going to survive.”

Ragusa said he has not spoken to Tabone, who was arraigned in federal court yesterday.

The Queens GOP also appointed: Robert Beltrani, first vice chair; Anthony Carollo, vice chair; Deborah Heinichen, vice chair;  Samiha Makawi, recording secretary;  James McClelland and Pierre Alcantara, members at large

Queens man kills wife in front of daughter


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens man kills wife in front of daughter

A Queens man fatally slit his estranged wife’s throat in front of her terrified young daughter — and was nabbed after cops tracked his bloody trail for three blocks, law-enforcement sources said today. “My stepfather stabbed my mom,” the stricken 9-year-old daughter of victim Diane Sharma told cops at their home on 117th Street in Jamaica. Sources said Sharma, a 32-year-old mother of three whose two younger children also were at home at the time, had had an order of protection against her Ukrainian husband. The man, who was not immediately identified, had been arrested Sept. 2 for allegedly assaulting and choking his wife, who then took out the restraint against him. Read More: New York Post

Perv pol lands Queens lobbyist gig

Disgraced ex-Councilman Dennis Gallagher now works with a Queens consultant who’s under attack for trying to strong-arm GOP candidates into hiring him, The Post has learned. Gallagher, who stepped down in 2008 after pleading guilty to sexual-abuse charges stemming from accusations that he raped a woman in his Middle Village office, is listed on a city government database as an “additional lobbyist” with GSP Consulting, a Sunnyside-based firm run by Jay Golub, a dentist. Gallagher, a Republican, confirmed that he does consulting work with Golub and that he’s done consulting for Councilman Peter Koo (R-Queens) but said he hasn’t done any work for Republicans in Queens “on a paid basis.” Read More: New York Post

Gas kills 2 in Queens

A man and his father were found dead from an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning at their Queens home yesterday. Aaron Chen, 29, and Kuo-Kuang Chen, 66, were found at their home on 101st Avenue in Ozone Park after the father didn’t show up to babysit his 12-year-old granddaughter. “He doted on her,” said his daughter, Marien Chen. Fearing the worst, she went to their house to check on them. “I crawled through the window. I was thinking, ‘please let them be OK.’ “My father was in his bed and my brother was lying on the floor. It looked like he was trying to get out,” Chen, 33, said. Read More: New York Post

Vallone Helps Astoria Clean Up Its Own “Flatiron Building”

A Queens lawmaker is behind an effort to spruce up the borough’s mini version of the Flatiron Building. Sitting at the intersection of Astoria Boulevard, 21st Street and 27th Avenue, historians say the triangle-shaped building was once the commercial center of Astoria. In recent years, the century-old neighborhood landmark had fallen into disrepair and been covered with graffiti. Last summer, Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. started working with the NYPD and the New Hampshire owners of the building to wipe away the graffiti and repaint the property. Read More: NY1

Dead Body Discovered On Queens Beach

Police are investigating after a body was found on a Queens beach. Officers were called to the shoreline near Beach 17th Street in Far Rockaway just before 8 a.m. Saturday. When the officers arrived, they found a woman unconscious and unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials say it appears the woman was in her 40s. Read More: NY1

TSA Collected Nearly $47,000 In Loose Change At JFK In 2011

The Transportation Security Administration is raking in some pretty pennies. TSA officials say agents collected more than $409,000 in loose change left by airline passengers last year. John F. Kennedy International Airport netted the most amount of money with nearly $47,000 left behind. TSA officials say says most of the money comes from people rushing through security or foreign travelers who don’t want to take it home with them. Read More: NY1

Cruise ship disaster death toll hits 6; Captain blamed for ‘judgment errors’ in Costa Concordia tragedy

The captain of the capsized Costa Concordia “seems to have made judgment errors with grave consequences,” the owners of the boat said Sunday — and prosecutors say he may purposely have sailed close to shore to greet a friend with a blast of the ship’s horn. Captain Francesco Schettino drove the 10-story ship into the rocky Tuscan island of Giglio, ripping a catastrophic 160-foot gash in its hull that sent the boat tumbling onto its side. At least six people were killed. “There was someone in particular that wanted to be signalled from the ship,” said prosecutor Franco Verusio. “We are looking into the possible responsibility of other people in this hazardous maneuver,” he told Italian TV. Read More: Daily News

City heroin ring smashed by arrests after yearlong probe, authorities say

Well-to-do suburbanites turned the Long Island Expressway into “Heroin Highway,” copping highs at bargain prices from pushers in Brooklyn and Queens, prosecutors said Friday. A yearlong investigation led to the arrest over the past week of eight alleged members of a drug ring who arranged for the sale of high-quality South American heroin at hotels, diners and electronic stores in Brooklyn and Queens, authorities said. More than 120 other suspects — most from eastern Long Island — have been nabbed over the past year traveling into the city to buy up heroin at a discount. All the buyers used the drug themselves, and some also resold the smack to pals, authorities said. Read More: Daily News