Tag Archives: Hiram Monserrate

Queens political hall of shame


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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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elected to the State Senate in 2000, was the chair of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) before his power was revoked shortly after the arrest.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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State Senator Peralta goes on the record on Huntley wiretap


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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State Senator Jose Peralta says he did not have any illegal discussions with his former colleague, Shirley Huntley, when she secretly recorded him last year.

“I was as surprised as anybody to have my name on this list,” Peralta told The Queens Courier. “I did no wrong-doing whatsoever. I know that nothing on these tapes would implicate me on anything with the exception of the fact that I was recorded.”

Peralta said his lawyers were assured by authorities that he is not the topic of a federal investigation, unlike some others on the list released last week. State Senators Malcolm Smith and John Sampson were arrested within a month of each other on federal corruption charges. Prosecutors have not confirmed whether

Huntley’s cooperation with the FBI aided in those arrests.

Because there are still ongoing investigations, Peralta could not say what he discussed with Huntley.

However, he did say that it was nothing of substance and “people will be scratching their heads” at the content recorded.

Peralta’s own tenure in the Senate came on the heels of another legislator’s removal from the chamber.

He won a special election in March 2010 after the Senate voted to expel disgraced pol Hiram Monserrate, who was convicted of a misdemeanor. Monserrate tried to reclaim his seat in the special election, but with the loss of the Democrats’ backing, he finished third.

“I ran against someone who really shocked the confidence of his constituents,” Peralta said. “I wanted to make sure I was as transparent and as forward-thinking as possible.”

Peralta said the recordings of seven elected officials and two political consultants were an effort by Huntley to point fingers and divert charges away from her.

“She must have thought she can get [a plea bargain] by pointing fingers at others,” he said. “I’m not saying there are no bad apples,” but “most of us are hardworking, transparent individuals.”

Peralta told The Courier that since he is not under investigation, the wiretap will not impact his run for borough president.

“I think it’s a minor setback, of course,” he said. “But I’ve been on the campaign trail and people see it for what it is.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 63. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 48. Winds less than 5 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Cinema of Immigration

As part of 10-week series exploring the immigrant experience in the U.S., Mark Ethan, a member of the Actors Studio, will present and discuss AMERICA, AMERICA (1963) at the Queens Museum of Art. The journey to America by a young man (Stathis Giallelis) is movingly captured by writer-director Elia Kazan in a personal film based on his uncle’s experience.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

More evidence uncovered in Boston Marathon bombings

The parents of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects held a press conference Thursday, addressing when they may be flying to the United States from Russia. It comes after word that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was added to a U.S. government terrorism database 18 months before the bombings. Read more: ABC New York

Queens residents weigh in on $3 million in neighborhood capital projects

Residents in three Queens City Council districts ate up the chance to vote on how tax dollars are spent in their neighborhood. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City’s ‘Fleet Week’ canceled due to federal budget cuts

Federal budget cuts have forced the U.S. Navy to cancel Fleet Week in New York City. Read more: CBS New York 

Carnival operator pleads guilty to $10,000 payoff to ex-senator Hiram Monserrate

A carnival operator pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying to the FBI about payoffs he made to former Queens state Sen. Hiram Monserrate for help securing permits. Read more: New York Daily News

NYC airflow study this summer to look at spread of contaminants

This summer, the NYPD and Brookhaven National Laboratory will conduct the largest ever urban airflow study. Read more: CBS New York

Survey: Americans Felt More Secure in Jobs in 2012

Confidence in the U.S. job market has rebounded to roughly a normal level from its record low after the Great Recession, a trend that could help boost the economy. Read more: AP

Hiram Monserrate sentenced to two years in prison


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember and state Senator Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months behind bars on Tuesday for fraudulently using City Council money to fund a run for state office.

Monserrate, who pleaded guilty to the charges in May, was convicted of fraud after misappropriating more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funding to finance his failed 2006 run for state Senate.

“Hiram Monserrate helped to underwrite his political ambitions with money that was intended to benefit those in need, and he corrupted his office in the process,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The money was directed to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment (LIBRE), a non-profit in his then council district. 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.

“Hiram Monserrate was undone by his greed and now will pay the price. He used a nonprofit’s money to serve his own political career rather than his constituency and with today’s prison sentence will forfeit his freedom,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

In addition to the 24 months in jail, Monserrate must pay a $80,000 fine and serve three additional years of supervised release.

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 of his girlfriend. He lost the subsequent special election to state Senator Jose Peralta.