Tag Archives: State Senator Malcolm Smith

Former Councilman Daniel Halloran wanted to secure City Hall posts for Republicans: report


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

During the White Plains federal corruption trial of state Sen. Malcolm Smith, jurors on Wednesday heard a secretly-taped recording of former City Councilman Daniel Halloran telling an undercover agent that Republicans should get at least half of the city’s top appointments, according to a published report.

Halloran, a Queens Republican, is accused of plotting a $200,000 bribery scheme to make Smith the GOP candidate for mayor.

“It comes down to what is it that you need first?” the agent, who went by the name “Raj” said in the recording taken on Feb. 8, 2013 at the Essex House in Manhattan, the New York Post reported.

“The first dep and a guarantee on the agency heads being split in the party,” Halloran said in the recording. “If he goes to City Hall and … cuts the baby in half so to speak, he plays Solomon, everything, everything works out.”

Halloran goes on to say that Republicans should get half of the 115 mayor-appointed commissioner, deputy commissioner and first assistant posts. He also demanded that Raj convince Smith, if elected as a Republican, to appoint Republicans to judicial positions, giving the conservative party influence in City Hall and “make things happen” for politically friendly developers at the Board of Standards and Appeals and the Buildings Department.

Smith made the failed bid to secure the 2013 Republican mayoral primary line by bribing Halloran and then-Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph “Jay” Savino, prosecutors alleged.

 

Queens pols: DREAM Act is not dead


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Maybe it was just a fantasy, but Queens politicians that support New York’s DREAM Act aren’t giving up the fight to make it a reality.

After receiving support from the State Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo, on Monday, the State Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act, which would have allocated $25 million in state funding for tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants attending college.

The legislation received just 30 of the necessary 32 votes to pass. Two Democratic senators opposed the measure, along with all Republican members.

Every Queens senator voted in favor of the measure, and now they are hoping to convince Cuomo to add the DREAM Act to the state budget, which is due April 1.

“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t pass. There are people in the state who don’t agree with it. That’s democracy,” said State Senator Tony Avella, who co-sponsored the measure. “There is no question that it’s disappointing, but we won’t give up the fight.”

Cuomo himself voiced disappointment that the Senate failed to pass the bill after the vote, and the same day he released a statement, vowing to fight for it– though it’s not clear if he will put it in the state budget.

“I will continue to work with supporters, stakeholders and members of the legislature to achieve this dream and build the support to pass this legislation and preserve New York’s legacy as a progressive leader,” Cuomo said.

If the DREAM Act had passed the final hurdle in the Senate vote, it would put New York among states such as California, New Mexico, Washington, and even Texas, which is known as a Republican state.

“I think it’s an embarrassment for New York State,” State Senator Malcolm Smith said. “We have always been a progressive state, especially for immigrants. We need to make it happen. I am optimistic that the bill could come up again before we end session in June. I will push for it to come up again.”

 

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Sen. Malcolm Smith’s lawyer wants federal corruption trial delayed


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Senator Malcolm Smith wants his federal corruption trial delayed, as he runs for re-election and awaits a judge’s decision to dismiss some charges, his lawyer said.

He and former Councilmember Dan Halloran will return to court Feb. 28.

The pair and four others were accused last April of conspiring with the city’s Republican Party leaders to allow Smith, a Democrat, to run for mayor as a Republican.

Federal prosecutors said Halloran negotiated payoffs and set up meetings between Smith and the county bosses, allegedly pocketing thousands in the process.

Lawyers for the two say the act is not considered bribery under New York state law.

A judge will soon decide on motions to throw out some of the charges, said Smith’s attorney, Gerald Shargel.

“It’s progressing in the normal course,” Shargel said.

Smith’s lawyer also wants the trial delayed until after this year’s Democratic primary to give the southeast Queens politician a fighting chance at re-election.

The primary is expected to take place in September, while the trial is scheduled to begin in June.

Two challengers, attorneys Clyde Vanel and Munir Avery, have already surfaced to unseat Smith.

“I don’t think that he would otherwise have a fair opportunity to present his position to his constituents,” Shargel said.

The lawyer plans to submit a written request to the court Feb. 7, he said.

Meanwhile, another co-defendant in the massive bribery scandal has pleaded guilty.

Joseph Desmaret, the former Spring Valley deputy mayor, confessed to accepting about $10,500 in cash bribes from an undercover FBI agent, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty Jan. 29 in White Plains federal court and faces up to 40 years in prison. He is slated for sentencing May 22.

Former Bronx Republican chair Joseph “Jay” Savino pleaded guilty in connection to the case last November.

Other co-defendants, former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone and Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, say they are innocent.

 

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Judge postpones decision on dismissing some charges against Smith, Halloran


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

A judge Friday did not decide on motions to dismiss some of the charges against State Senator Malcolm Smith and former Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Halloran’s case was adjourned until February 28, according to sources. A spokesperson for Smith could not confirm his next court date.

After pleading not guilty in April, Halloran and State Senator Malcolm Smith, along with other defendants in the case, initially appeared in court in July to fight some of the charge against them.

Officials said Smith, a Democrat, bribed county GOP bosses to let him run for mayor as a Republican.

Halloran is accused of setting up meetings between Smith and county leaders and negotiating payoffs. He allegedly pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash and offered up councilmember item cash in exchange for bribes, officials said.

Vincent Tabone, ex-vice chair of the Queens County Republican Party, and Joseph Savino, former chair of the Bronx County GOP, allegedly took at least $40,000 in cash bribes as part of the conspiracy, authorities said.

 

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Clyde Vanel latest to enter race for Malcolm Smith’s Senate seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The race for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat is widening with new contender Clyde Vanel.

Vanel joins attorney Munir Avery to try and snag the Senate seat from Smith, who was arrested last April for corruption charges.

“We have zero representation right now in the Senate,” Vanel said of the 14th Senate District, which comprises of southeast Queens neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Queens Village, Hollis and Cambria Heights.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights native, wants to focus on bringing jobs back to the district and straightening out “Albany’s dysfunction.”

“We need to bring more jobs to our state and economic policy,” he said. “I have owned and run businesses before. I’ve had employees. I’m a business attorney, so I understand the policies and regulations that make it difficult for people to keep small businesses in New York.”

Vanel most recently ran to replace the term-limited Councilmember Leroy Comrie, but fell short by two percent of the votes to current Councilmember Daneek Miller in September’s primary.

Since then, the attorney said he has “been trying to get back on my feet” and expand support in the district for this upcoming election.

If elected, he said he would “be loyal to the Democratic Party,” criticizing Smith for associating with the Independent Democratic Conference, a bipartisan legislative branch. He also hopes to find alternative ways to bringing in revenue outside of raising taxes.

“We have to be more creative with respect to how do we generate revenue from the government, and how do we do more with less,” he said.

He added he will soon be releasing a plan of ideas on how to do so.

“I’m the best person that is currently in the race now,” he said. “The thing is, I’m not running against Malcom Smith, I’m running for the seat. The plan of attack is to just stand on the issues.”

 

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Attorney Munir Avery to run for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Munir Avery

Munir Avery announced he will be the first challenger for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat in the 2014 election.

“I was born and raised in Queens Village, and I want to continue to serve my community. I want to bring the services to my community,” said the attorney.

Smith, who was indicted in April for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for mayor, has not publicly decided whether to run again.

Reps for the 13-year Democratic incumbent said he is not going to comment on his challenger.

In the State Senate, Smith caucused with a group of Democrats that govern with Republicans, said Avery.

“Because of that, the Democrats don’t have their chairmanship [in Albany],” he said.

If elected, Avery plans to caucus with the Democrats in order to work and fight for the party’s agenda.

“It’s cleaning up the system,” he said. “That would be the reason I felt the need to run against [Smith].”

Although this is Avery’s first run at office, he is no stranger to politics. He currently is counsel to Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, and previously worked for the Queens district attorney’s office and on City Council campaigns.

Avery hopes to address various issues surrounding schools, including funding a universal pre-kindergarten, nurturing scholar athletes, and implementing art and after-school programs.

“When I went to public school, we were able to have art, gym,” he said. “I want to see that back in the schools and I’m going to fight for that.”

He also wants to promote open government in Albany and “try to get the big money out,” of which he said Smith has failed to do.

 

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Ex-Bronx GOP chair pleads guilty in bribery scandal involving Queens pols


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The New York Daily News

The former Bronx Republican chairman has pleaded guilty in the bribery scandal involving two indicted Queens legislators.

Joseph “Jay” Savino admitted to accepting a $15,000 bribe in February from an undercover FBI agent to let Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith run for mayor as a Republican. Smith needed consent from three of the city’s five Republican chairmen.

Prosecutors said Smith had Councilmember Dan Halloran set up meetings with the county leaders and negotiate payoffs. Halloran is accused of pocketing thousands in exchange for his help.

Savino pleaded guilty to three public corruption counts on November 12 in federal court in White Plains for his hand in the alleged conspiracy that took place between November 2012 and April 2013.

He faces up to 30 years in prison and is expected to be sentenced February 25, according to reports.

Savino’s lawyer and Halloran, who has pleaded not guilty, did not respond to inquiries. Halloran’s lawyer declined to comment.

Former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, who were also arrested in connection to the scheme, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Tabone’s lawyers said a motion they filed to dismiss the charges against him is still pending and will be heard by Southern District of New York Judge Kenneth M. Karas on December 5.

“Mr. Savino has his own reasons for pleading guilty, but as far as we can tell, he did not implicate our client in any of his pleas,” said Deborah Misir, one of Tabone’s attorneys.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we have a very weighty motion to dismiss, pending the court,” Misir said. “We’re very confident the court is going to dismiss the two charges against our client.”

 

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FDNY defeats NYPD at Queens South Responders Basketball Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Fire Department was just too hot to handle in the inaugural Queens South Responders Basketball Tournament at Daniel O’Connell Park on Sunday, August 25.

FDNY from Engine 317 and Ladder 165 defeated the 113th Precinct, 30-15, before crushing the community team 36-18 to win the tournament.

Jamahl Wright of the fire team scored the most points in both games, with 15 in the first and 9 in the second.

The game was organized to bring local first responders and residents together to build trust in the community.

“First responders are our partners of the betterment of our community,” said State Senator Malcolm Smith, who played for the community team, drawing on his experience playing basketball for Christ The King High School. “More important than winning is the camaraderie that comes about.”

Members of the Fire Department wore red, the NYPD wore blue and the community had white T-shirts on. While the game’s main message was about unity, the teams played very competitively.

“We out here to win,” said Shaka Gaines captain of the FDNY team. “You got be able to brag about something. So when we see them we can say ‘remember the game.’”

The first annual event brought tons of basketball fans from the community to watch. Unlike the Jump and Ball Tournament games that have been in the park every weekend during the month, these games were special, because only adults participated. It was also unique, because it brought local responders to the park for fun.

“This whole thing came together two weeks ago, so it’s a win in my eyes,” said Johnny Hines, a Community Affairs officer of the 113th Precinct. Hines came up with the idea of the game a few weeks ago and reached out to community leaders to put it together. “These guys would never be here in this park if this [tournament] wasn’t here.”

 

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LL Cool J returns to Queens for Jump and Ball Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

It’s not just Ladies who Love Cool James.

The rapper and actor, whose real name is James Smith, was surrounded by hundreds of male and female fans and residents for pictures and hugs as he made his way through Daniel O’Connell Park to watch the games of his 9th annual Jump and Ball Tournament on Saturday.

LL Cool J, who stars in “NCIS: Los Angeles,” started the tournament along with State Senator Malcolm Smith to give back to his community.

“There are a lot of artist who come out of southeast Queens, but I can tell you this is the only one I know who has stepped up and said ‘I want to give something back,’ and has stuck with it for nine years,” the senator said.

The event, which features basketball games every weekend until September 1, is free to register and participate. In past weeks there was also live music, free food and a variety of other family fun activities, including golf, chess, tennis, a karate showcase and rope tricks by Cowboy Curly Hall.

“I think it’s wonderful that he does this for the community,” said St. Albans resident Leticia Moore-Jackson. “He never forgot where he came from. He’s a great rapper, entertainer and a great person.”

Coming back home was special for James as well, because he said his schedule forces him to be everywhere around the country and sometimes abroad. He delivered a message to the children at the park about believing in your dreams, despite what others may say.

“Anything you really truly believe deep down inside you, you can accomplish,” he said. “And I don’t want you to ever think that because you’re from this neighborhood, my neighborhood, that you’re somehow relegated to only having a certain amount of success or you’re only able to do certain things based on where you’re from or the color your skin or what someone else says about you. Don’t believe that because it’s not true.”

James said the basketball tournament has turned into an important part of the year for the community and it is a significant event for him as well.

“This is the hood and basketball is just a big part of how we came up and how we grew up and I wanted to make sure that they had an opportunity to play and have fun,” he said. “I think they love it and I love it.”

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Candidates vie for votes in Councilmember Halloran’s district


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The six candidates vying to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran mapped out ways they would bring integrity back to the seat at a Flushing forum last week.

“There is such anger, and it’s justified,” said Paul Vallone at a forum hosted by the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “We need to reclaim our local council office. It’s been an embarrassment and it has hurt our entire district.”

Halloran pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges for his alleged hand in bribing GOP officials to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ticket.

He said he would not seek re-election this year, which leaves the District 19 seat open to be claimed by Chrissy Voskerichian, Austin Shafran, John Duane, Paul Graziano, Vallone or lone Republican contender Dennis Saffran.

Voskerichian, who quit her job as Halloran’s chief of staff shortly after his arrest, said she was “not going to apologize for being there.”

“I did work for Dan Halloran. I think I did a very good job,” she said. “I was disappointed and upset about what happened. If I didn’t have those three years in office, I probably would not be running for the city council today.”

Pitching ways to bring more transparency to the office, Shafran said councilmembers should ban outside employment and income, while Duane pledged to post all meetings on his website.

“You’re paying my salary. You’re the taxpayer,” Duane said. “You deserve to know exactly what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with.”

Graziano, who pushed for full public financial disclosures, said candidates should not accept money from real estate developers or lobbyists.

He, Voskerichian, Vallone and Shafran also want to eliminate the City Council Speaker’s power to allocate discretionary funds in order for each district to get its fair share.

“Discretionary funding should be per capita and not delivered by the Speaker as a favor or a reward for voting or not voting a certain way,” Voskerichian said.

Saffran said any legislator under indictment for public corruption should be suspended.

“Dan Halloran should not be receiving a public paycheck right now. It’s outrageous that he is,” he said.

Five of the six candidates then fielded preservation and storm readiness questions at a Bayside debate hosted by the Bayside Historical Society this week.

Most agreed the city should put power lines underground and do more to maintain older city trees that have become deadly.

Shafran said he supports requiring backup generators at gas stations and proposed mandating Con Ed to work with the city on storm plans.

Vallone, who did not show up, was comforting the family of his “good friend and mentor” Judge Joseph Risi, who had just passed away, a campaign spokesperson said.

His absence prompted contention from some of his rivals, who claimed he was dodging the debate purposefully due to a poor performance with the historic host group in 2009.

Graziano, at the end of the night, addressed the “deafening silence at the far end of the table” where Vallone’s namecard accompanied his empty seat.

“He didn’t have the courtesy to show up tonight,” Graziano said.

The candidates will debate for the last time before the September 10 primary at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center on August 27 at 7 p.m.

 

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Cowboys ride into annual Jump and Ball Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

LL Cool J’s ninth annual Jump and Ball Tournament in St. Albans had a dark horse.

Cowboy Curly Hall and members of the Federation of Black Cowboys of Howard Beach mosied on to Daniel O’Connell Park on Saturday to meet young buckaroos and buckarettes, while the basketball games raged on.

The tournament, an effort by embattled State Senator Malcolm Smith and the world famous rapper and actor LL Cool J, gave kids a chance to learn about history and lifestyles of cowboys and to interact with horses, among other sports events and educational activities.

“In this century there are not many cowboys around that kids can recognize as being another source of living,” Hall said. “We actually live the cowboy life, we actually perform and try to enjoy what was once a real way of life. But saying all of that I  enjoy entertaining the kids and teaching them a little history.”

The event, which features free basketball tournaments, every Saturday and Sunday until Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, also had free food, giveaways and live music. Children could participate in golf as well or talk with representatives from the Queens Public Library.

“It’s a good thing for the children,” said Andrea Maddison, a Laurelton parent. “ It’s nice for them to get outside. And they don’t need to be inside running up people’s electric bill.”

The event is among more positive news for Smith, who will be facing charges of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud after investigators alleged that he conspired to rig the mayoral election with Councilmember Dan Halloran and Queens County Republican Party Vice Chair Vincent Tabone.

“I think what’s so important about giving back is we don’t know who the next star is in this entire group,” Smith said. “Anybody here could be the next president, could be the next LL Cool J. What this does is it shows them and gives them an example that even when you make it you can’t forget where you came from.”

 

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State Senator Malcolm Smith, LL Cool J to hold Queens Jump and Ball Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Malcolm Smith

Despite his political troubles embattled State Senator Malcolm Smith will team up with rapper and actor LL Cool J again to present the 9th annual Jump and Ball Tournament.

The event, which features basketball games and double-dutch tournaments, will be free to register and participate in, and will take place at Daniel O’Connell Park in Saint Albans, every Saturday and Sunday starting August 3 to Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will also be music, free food and a variety of other family fun activities, including golf, chess, tennis and a karate showcase at this year’s event.

“This competition is a wonderful opportunity for the youth in the community to get some fresh air and exercise while they show off their talents,” Smith said. “I am looking forward to a huge turnout. I think this year will be our best Jump and Ball ever.”

“NCIS: Los Angles” star LL Cool J helped found the tournament in 2005 with Smith when he wanted to create a program to give back to the community. The celebrity will make an appearance at the event on one day, but that day has not been decided as yet.

Among the sports activities, children will have chances to learn from the Queens Zoo and watch rope trick performances by Cowboy Curly Hall of the Federation of Black Cowboys of Howard Beach on August 17.

The event is among more positive news for Smith, who will be facing charges of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud after investigators alleged that he conspired to rig the mayoral election with Councilmember Dan Halloran and Queens County Republican party Vice Chair Vincent Tabone.

 

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Politician pushing for tax-free Jamaica


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Downtown Jamaica could be included in a tax exemption program that stands to give an economic boost to the area around York College.

Governor Andrew Cuomo created and passed a program that installed tax-free zones in designated area around SUNY campuses. When State Senator Malcolm Smith caught wind of the new venture, he proposed getting Queens in on the action.

“A university or school can be the center for economic development for a neighborhood,” he said. “York College is the center of southeast Queens.”

The program, Start-Up NY, aims to bring revenue to communities in need by giving unprecedented exemptions from sales, property, state and corporate taxes for 10 years. It also includes exemptions from state personal income taxes for employees in newly created jobs.

If Smith’s proposal is passed, York College could apply to sponsor a tax-free zone around it. Among the criteria for a neighborhood to gain the special status, it has to have the highest poverty rate out of all college neighborhoods in the borough. The York College community has a roughly 20 percent poverty rate, slightly higher than any other college community in Queens.

The initiative is designed with an eye to attracting businesses that can enhance employment opportunities for students and graduates. Retail outlets and real estate firms will not be eligible to participate, while fiber optics companies and other high tech ventures are sought.

“These are very powerful incentives,” Smith said. “If properly applied, they could be transformative for York and economically regenerative for Jamaica.”

Smith has engaged in talks with Dr. Marcia Keizs, president of York College, to execute this economic vision. The legislator said he has “no doubt” Cuomo will approve the proposal.

“There is a strong community presence and involvement in the program,” he said, “because that’s what’s going to make it exceptional and transparent.”

 

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Huntley speaks: Ex-State Senator alleges charges were in retaliation


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley says the investigation that led to state charges against her last year stemmed from political decisions she made in Albany.

Speaking with political commentator Roy Paul in Springfield Gardens, Huntley — who is set to go to federal prison next month — said State Senator Malcolm Smith tried to have her investigated after she failed to vote for him as senate leader.

She said her problem was not with the charges against her, to which she pleaded guilty, but the way in which she was indicted by state officials.

She said after a witness came to her with the information, she realized Smith was trying to have her looked into. Huntley alleged Smith first took the information to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who Huntley later confronted.

“Tom said to me ‘I can’t go into detail, but this is not my idea’,” Huntley said. “He says, ‘It came to me from Malcolm Smith, and after I decided there was no reason to go forward, I was told to give it to [Attorney General] Eric Schneiderman and he would take care of it.’”

Smith’s office said he has no comment on matters relating to Huntley.

Federal official arrested him on April 2 on charges of trying to make bribes for a Wilson-Pakula certificate. The document would have allowed the longtime Democrat to run for mayor of New York City as a Republican. Smith and accused co-conspirators have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Huntley turned herself in to the attorney general’s office on August 27, 2012. She was charged with helping cover up embezzlement through a nonprofit she helped establish. The investigation was a joint effort between the offices of Schneiderman and DiNapoli.

Huntley went on to lose a September primary to current State Senator James Sanders.

A spokesperson for DiNapoli said the office has no comment and is cooperating with law enforcement agencies.

A spokesperson for Schneiderman said Huntley’s allegations were null, calling them a last-ditch effort before she heads off to jail.

“Attorney General Schneiderman’s commitment to rooting out political corruption is the reason he was the first prosecutor to indict Shirley Huntley,” said Damien LaVera. “It’s no surprise that a criminal who is going to jail for lying and stealing is lashing out at the prosecutor who brought her to justice.”

Although the case never made it to state court, Huntley pleaded guilty to federal embezzlement charges for stealing atotal of $88,000. She has been ordered to pay it back and was sentenced to 366 days in prison.

During the sentencing, it was revealed that Huntley taped several elected officials last summer for the FBI. But prosecutors said some information she provided was not trustworthy enough to give her a cooperation bargain.

Huntley said Schneiderman, who was a senator before he became attorney general in 2011, butted heads with her several times – both in the chamber and on his campaign.

First, she said, they disagreed on voting out former State Senator Hiram Monserrate, who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. Schneiderman had been a leader on the effort to expel the former Elmhurst lawmaker, while Huntley said she did not believe the Senate was a law enforcement body.

Further, while she supported Schneiderman’s attorney general campaign, she alleged Schneiderman asked her to defame his primary opponent, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

“I was not a fan of Kathleen Rice because I don’t know her. But I was not going to do anything that was going to damage her reputation,” Huntley said. “I was not going to go to black folks and tell them they need to jump up and down and yell Kathleen Rice is a racist, and she only locks up black people. I was not going to do that because that is not how I do business.”

 

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Queens pols among elected officials secretly recorded by ex-State Senator Shirley Huntley


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photos

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley secretly recorded three Queens elected officials, among others, for federal authorities last summer, according to court documents.

State Senators Jose Peralta and Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Ruben Wills were named in a memorandum unsealed by a federal judge this afternoon.

The filing also named Brooklyn State Senators Eric Adams, John Sampson and Velmanette Montgomery; Bronx State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson; Melvin Lowe, a former political consultant and associate of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; and Curtis Taylor, a former press consultant for Smith.

None are necessarily accused of wrong-doing.

Federal authorities reportedly claim three of the recorded politicians were helpful in building cases.

Smith was arrested on April 2 after federal prosecutors said he tried to bribe Republican county leaders to let him switch parties and run on the GOP ticket for mayor. Sampson was arrested on Monday, May 6 and accused of embezzling money from the sale of foreclosed homes.

According to the court filing, federal officials approached Huntley last summer—before she herself was charged for allegedly covering up money funneled through a non-profit she helped establish. Schneiderman brought those charges.

In February, she pleaded guilty to trying to help cover up the $87,000 embezzlement. She will be sentenced in federal court on Thursday, May 9.

According to the memorandum, Huntley told government officials she knew of corruption that involved elected officials. She reportedly spoke with them over a course of six months.

Huntley, who lost a primary last September, invited the leaders into her home and recorded conversations on behalf of the FBI, the document said.

“The defense is aware that the government is currently investigating public officials based in part upon the information provided by Ms. Huntley and her recorded conversations,” Huntley’s lawyer, Sally Butler, said in the memorandum. “Ms. Huntley has not revealed her proffers or recordings publicly so as to maximize the government’s current efforts.”

A spokesperson for Smith said the embattled legislator could not comment on anything related to his arrest last month or new allegations that he met with Huntley. Wills’ office also did not have a comment at this time.

An inside source told The Queens Courier more names are expected to be released.

Two of the officials named in the filing are seeking higher office this year. Peralta is one of six candidates running for Borough President. Adams was vying to be the first black Brooklyn Borough president. A Peralta spokesperson would not comment at this time.

All elected officials in the probe were Democrats, shaking an already unsettled party in Albany. A Senate Democratic Conference spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of the caucus following the news.

“This is an extremely trying time in Albany,” he said. “If any charges are brought, the conference will take appropriate action.”

– With additional reporting by Maggie Hayes and Melissa Chan

 

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