Tag Archives: State Senator Shirley Huntley

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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Huntley co-defendants plead guilty, agree to return nearly $30G


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

A week after their former boss, State Senator Shirley Huntley, pleaded guilty to embezzlement cover-up and falsifying evidence, three co-defendants have followed suit.

Huntley pleaded guilty on Wednesday, February 13 after nearly $30,000 in taxpayer dollars went missing; her co-conspirators, Patricia Savage, Lynn Smith and David Gantt, entered their pleas a week later.

Savage and Smith confirmed their roles in an illegal member item theft scheme and a cover-up involving a sham nonprofit group, Parent Workshop, in which they claimed to use funds to hold workshops and conduct outreach to parents about the public school system. Instead, the pair pocketed the money, and there were no workshops. Gantt pleaded guilty to falsifying records claiming that he was paid for conducting these workshops, when he never did so, according to the attorney general’s office.

“There are no excuses for public officials and their associates who game the system to line their pockets, and then engage in a brazen cover up when their crimes are exposed,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman also said that state taxpayers will be fully reimbursed for the stolen money.

Savage and Smith agreed to pay the state of New York the exact amount of money taken. Gantt was not charged with taking any of the funds.

“There is no place in public service for those who enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers,” said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “These individuals defrauded the public.”

Savage and Smith are scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, March 27 and Gantt on Friday, March 29 in Nassau County Supreme Court. If convicted, they will maintain a felony charge on their records and serve five years of probation.

 

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Former State Senator Shirley Huntley pleads guilty to embezzlement cover-up


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Jeanne Noonan/ for New York Daily News

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley has pleaded guilty to covering up $30,000 in taxpayer-funded services that were never performed.

Huntley, 74, was arrested after turning herself in last August. She was charged 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,” according to the Attorney General’s office. She pleaded not guilty, but nearly six months later, on Wednesday, February 13, Huntley came clean.

Funds provided to the Parent Workshop were said to be going to programs at the Beacon Center, but instead were funneled straight to the phony group’s president and treasurer, and Huntley reportedly got a cut.

In her allocution, Huntley said she assisted in drafting a letter to be used to create a false record, indicating that events on behalf of the Parent Workshop had taken place. She additionally knew that the false record would be submitted to the Attorney General’s investigation, according to public court records.

“State officials must be held to the highest standards,” said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “Former Senator Huntley betrayed the trust of her constituents and her public duty.”

Prosecutors in the case recommended a sentence of five years probation for the former pol in exchange for her felony guilty plea. Theft and obstruction charges are still pending against her co-defendants, including Patricia Savage, the president of Parent Workshop and her former aide, and Lynn Smith, treasurer of the group and Huntley’s niece.

Sally Butler, Huntley’s attorney, did not wish to comment on the plea, nor did family.

 

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Ex-State Senator Huntley expected to plead guilty to embezzlement charges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Jeanne Noonan/ for New York Daily News

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley, arrested last summer and later ousted in a primary election, will plead guilty on charges that she helped funnel nearly $80,000 through a phony nonprofit, the Daily News has reported.

Huntley, who turned herself in to the state attorney general’s office last August, was originally fingered for helping cover up a nonprofit which offered parent workshops that State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged never took place.

The Daily News reported the disgraced legislator will admit she helped embezzle $80,000 through Parents Information Network; Huntley’s daughter, Pam Corley, ran the nonprofit.

A spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch could not confirm nor deny a guilty plea on Huntley’s part.

Huntley was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor for drafting a fake, backdated letter to make it appear as if Parents Information Network held workshops in 2008 that used $30,000 in state-granted money. She pleaded not guilty to these charges in August. If convicted on all three charges, Huntley, 74, could face a maximum of nine years in prison.

Sally Butler, Huntley’s attorney, was not available for comment. Huntley is not speaking to the press, a representative said when her house was phoned.

 

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Sanders defeats indicted incumbent Huntley in State Senate primary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Incumbent State Senator Shirley Huntley, who just a few weeks ago was charged with tampering, falsifying business records and conspiracy, lost her District 10 seat.

Before her arrest, Huntley was already facing a viable challenger in the Democratic primary, Councilmember James Sanders, the September 13 winner.

Early numbers coming in showed Sanders ahead, but the results that Huntley’s campaign got at one point may have given the senator and some of her supporters, who were gathered at Rochdale Village, hope that she was going to keep her seat.

Around 10:30 p.m., loud cheers were heard coming from inside that gathering, which was closed to media.

Shortly after, many of those in attendance came out in a seemingly joyful mood. One, a woman decked out in a “Shirley Huntley for State Senate” T-shirt and button, was chanting, “Sanders needs a job!”

Huntley then came out, only saying that she was tired, and quickly got into a car.

But it was Sanders and his supporters who ended up celebrating a win, not Huntley.

Around 11:45 p.m., Sanders, who also faced off against real estate professional Gian A. Jones, made his victory speech at his election night party in Richmond Hill.

With all the precincts reporting, he won 57.1 percent of the vote, according to numbers released by the New York Times.

Huntley received 39.9 percent and Jones won 3 percent.

Sanders does not have a Republican opponent in the general election, and is now the State Senator-elect.

“We pledge clean government, respectful government. This is not our money. This is the people’s money. We don’t have the right to spend it as we wish,” he said in his victory speech.

On August 28, the day after Huntley’s arrest for allegedly helping to cover up the fraudulent use of state money, Sanders called for Huntley to exit the race.

Pleading not guilty to the charges, Huntley, who has held the seat since 2007, refused to give up her campaign.

Neither Huntley nor her campaign could be reached for comment following her loss.

Along with thanking his campaign staff and those who believed that he could win when everyone said he couldn’t beat an incumbent state senator, Sanders also mentioned in his victory speech what he hoped to do for his community.

Sanders’ chief of staff, Donovan Richards, reportedly wants to run for his boss’ soon to be vacated seat.

“He’s the right pick to replace me in the city council,” said Sanders.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy with a chance of rain in the morning, then overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. High of 81. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Monday night: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 73. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT of the DAY: Movie Night in Astoria Park

Come to Astoria Park tonight for a free outdoor screening of “Footloose.” This will be the last free movie night in Astoria Park of the summer. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens father busted for endangering child

A heartless dad was busted for leaving his infant girl in a sweltering car Sunday. Robert Brown left his 7-month-old daughter in his red Mitsubishi outside a laundromat on Cross Bay Blvd. in Ozone Park, police sources said. Read more: New York Daily News

USTA pulls free US Open tickets for city politicians

The line judge has ruled: It’s out of bounds for city politicians and employees to take luxury seats compliments of the US Open. The US Tennis Association yanked all invitations to elected city officials and city employees last week because the Conflict of Interest Board quietly ruled that they can’t accept the freebies, The Post has learned. Read more: New York Post 

Embattled Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley steered tens of thousands in campaign funds to her daughter and husband 

Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who is expected to be hit with corruption charges Monday, showered her daughter and husband with tens of thousands of dollars from her campaign kitty, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News 

Man who killed coworker outside of Empire State Building had been asked to leave his apartment

The man who shot and killed a former co-worker outside of the Empire State Building was not evicted, but was told to vacate his Upper East Side apartment so the landlord could make renovations, a police source told Reuters. Read more: CBS New York

Isaac could hit Gulf Coast as Cat 2 hurricane

Tropical Storm Isaac churned toward the northern Gulf Coast early Monday and promised to give the Republican National Convention a good drenching after lashing the Florida Keys and Miami area with wind and rain. Read more: CBS News

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorses Barack Obama in 2012 presidential race

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he’s backing Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race. The former Republican made the announcement in an op-ed piece published in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times. Read more: Washington Post

State Senator Shirley Huntley’s husband allegedly robbed outside Aqueduct Racino


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The husband of a Queens public official alleged he was robbed at gunpoint outside Resorts World Casino, but Racino officials are calling his bluff.

State Senator Shirley Huntley’s spouse, Herbert Huntley, told cops last month that while walking outside the Ozone Park facility, three males with revolvers stopped him and stole approximately $380 in cash from his wallet.

However, representatives from the Racino have contradicted the husband’s account after reviewing the facility’s surveillance cameras.

“A preliminary look at our surveillance system does not support the allegation,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson for Resorts World. “The safety of our patrons is Resorts World New York’s top priority, and working alongside the NYPD, we have launched a thorough investigation of these allegations.”

Investigators at the 106th Precinct are looking into the claims of both sides, but have not confirmed anything at this time.

“We investigated the night of the report and we forwarded it to the detectives who are now working on it,” 106th Precinct community affairs officer Kenneth Zorn said. “It is absolutely an open investigation.”

Repeated calls to the senator’s office for comment were not returned by the time this paper went to print.

Last month The Courier reported that the 106th Precinct, which covers the Racino, added 15 new officers. In anticipation of the first summer after the opening of Resorts World, four additional officers have been designated to the casino during the weekends.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee: Arvind Mahankali of Queens finishes third for second straight year

New York’s reigning wordsmith again came achingly close to a title at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday, notching a third-place place finish for the second straight year. Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, Queens, who was sponsored by the Daily News, sailed through his third national bee until well into Thursday night’s finals – aired live on ESPN – when pronouncer Jacques Bailly hit him with “schwannoma,” a tumor of the sheath of the peripharal nerve. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

P.S. 174 Teacher Now Accused Of Molesting Five Boys

A Queens elementary school teacher arrested in February is now accused of molesting a total of five boys. 49-year-old Wilbert Cortez was originally charged with fondling two young boys in his classroom earlier this year. Read more: [NY1]

 

Deli fury at city’s ‘grocer’ injustice

Big Apple deli owners yesterday cried foul over Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban them from selling sugary drinks that are more than 16 ounces — a rule that wouldn’t apply to “Big Gulp” king 7-Eleven and other grocery stores. Read more: [New York Post]

 

State Senator’s husband tells cops he was mugged at Aqueduct racino 

A casino may be the perfect place for bluffing, but not when guns and the law are involved. The husband of a Queens lawmaker claims that he was recently mugged at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Aqueduct racino. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Decorated Marine named valedictorian of York College in Jamaica 

A decorated former Marine corporal who served two tours of duty in Iraq has overcome yet another challenge: college, and with flying colors.Chemistry major Tony Wan, 25, of Fresh Meadows, was named valedictorian of his class at York College. Wan, the first college grad in his family, is to accept his diploma on Friday. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Man Who Hijacked Plane In 1968 To Be Re-Sentenced

A federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing Thursday for a man sent to prison 15 years ago for hijacking a plane from New York to Cuba in 1968. Authorities say 69-year-old Luis Armando Pena-Soltren hijacked the plane to Cuba after it took off from Kennedy Airport. Read more: [NY1]

Politics Aside: Watch the falling dominos


| RHornak@queenscourier.com

Watching one of those world-record setting domino falls, where the pieces go off in all different directions and patterns, is like watching politically connected indictments in Queens these days. As the dominos fall, they get closer and closer to knocking down more elected officials.

A few weeks back this column wrote about the Kool-aid many Queens Democrats must be drinking that makes them think what is obviously unethical is somehow permissible for them. Featured were the scandals surrounding Congressmember Gregory Meeks. Now, the man who gave Meeks $40,000, in what was allegedly a loan, but with no repayment terms, interest, or any signed agreement, is reported to be negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

Developer Ehul Ahma’s deal, however, seems to be taking an unusually long time to work out, fueling speculation that he has something to offer regarding the Meeks issue, and possibly other Queens electeds. How far this will reach is not known, but would seem to be a bad omen for Meeks.

Meanwhile, the dominos are also falling around State Senator Shirley Huntley, who saw four of her close associates indicted this past week for allegedly stealing $30,000 in taxpayer “member items” Huntley secured for a local non-profit, Parent Workshop, Inc, that she founded before being elected.

The indictments included Lynn Smith, Huntley’s niece and Parent Workshop’s treasurer, and Patricia Savage, Parent Workshop’s President and Huntley’s Chief of Staff. The probe was conducted jointly by the Attorney General and State Comptroller’s offices, and is said to be ongoing, indicating more indictments could follow.

And the dominos are falling fast and furiously around City Comptroller John Liu, who is seeing scandals arising involving almost everyone in his fundraising operation, and has yet to reveal the names of the bundlers from his 2009 campaign, whose names he was supposed to reveal in order to receive matching funds.

One of Liu’s known bundlers, Oliver Pan, was arrested a few weeks back for breaking campaign finance laws, including creating “straw donors” to funnel money above legal limits to candidates. This is an allegation recently made against Liu’s fundraising operation, with many of his donors having no idea they made a contribution, or some seeming not to exist at all.

Keep watching the dominos fall. It’s always entertaining to see the patterns they create, and to see if they will go all the way to the end, taking all the dominos down in one motion.