Ex-N.Y. Senator Huntley Recorded City, State Officials
Former New York state Senator Shirley Huntley, who pleaded guilty in January to mail fraud conspiracy, worked with the government to secretly record other elected officials in a corruption probe, according to her lawyer.
The attorney named nine people recorded by the ex-lawmaker in a filing made public today in the federal court in Brooklyn. They are six state senators, a New York City councilman and two former staff members.
Huntley, who is to be sentenced tomorrow by U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein, was asked by the government to “invite certain individuals into her home and record conversations,” according to a letter filed by her lawyer, Sally Butler, in a request for leniency.
The individuals included state Senator John Sampson, of Brooklyn, who pleaded not guilty this week to embezzlement and other charges, and state Senator Malcolm Smith, of Queens, who was charged last month in a bribery case in Manhattan.
State Senator Eric Adams, who is running for Brooklyn borough president, was also named in the letter.
‘Pursuit of Justice’
“I have not been contacted about any investigation,” Adams, a former New York police officer, said in a statement forwarded by a spokesman. “I believe deeply in transparency and the pursuit of justice -- and that is why I committed 20 years of my life to law enforcement. I am more than willing to help with any investigation.”
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn, declined to comment on the letter, or whether any of the officials are currently under investigation.
All of the lawmakers are Democrats.
Others named in the filing were Bronx and Westchester County state Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Queens state Senator Jose Peralta, New York City Councilman Ruben Willis and Brooklyn state Senator Velmanette Montgomery. The filing also named a former political consultant and a former press adviser among those recorded.
“I am confident that the authorities will find, if they have not already done so, that I have engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever,” Peralta said in a statement forwarded by a spokesman.
Willis said in an e-mailed statement that his attorney has been in contact with law enforcement authorities and informed him he isn’t the target of the investigation involving Huntley.
“I have personally not been contacted by any law enforcement officials to date and I look forward to continuing the work of the people of southeast Queens that elected me,” he said.
Hassell-Thompson said she was “perplexed” to learn she was mentioned in the filing.
“To be sure, Shirley Huntley invited me to lunch in 2012. We met and spoke, in general, about matters including our health and our families,” Hassell-Thompson said in a statement e-mailed by a spokeswoman. “At no time -- past or present -- did we discuss anything inappropriate, improper or illegal. My record is above reproach.”
She added that she was “certain” the government had already cleared her name.
A representative for Montgomery didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the filing.
Huntley, of Queens, was accused of embezzling $87,700 from a nonprofit group she founded, the Parents Information Network, which received public grants sponsored by state legislators. Huntley spent a portion of the money on “personal items,” including toiletries and household items, Butler said in the letter.
Huntley also used some of the funds to pay for expenses not related to the nonprofit’s mission such as a funeral for a child in her community and graduation caps and gowns for low-income high school students, according to the letter. The nonprofit was purportedly established to help educate parents about the New York City public school system.
In her guilty plea, the lawmaker admitted to the government that she received $1,000 from an individual who wanted help doing business at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was in Huntley’s district.
“The government has been able to ban the businessman from further association with JFK airport,” Butler said in the letter. “Mrs. Huntley’s assistance to the government should be considered as a mitigating factor” in her sentencing.
Under a plea deal with the government, Huntley, 74, faces a sentence of as long as two years in prison. She also agreed to pay $87,700 to the state and $1,000 to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as restitution for the airport bribery scheme.
Butler filed the letter under seal earlier this month. Weinstein yesterday ordered that it be made public after reporters from Newsday, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the New York Times (NYT), Bloomberg News, the Associated Press and Reuters objected to its being filed under seal. Prosecutors opposed efforts to make the filing public.
The case is U.S. v. Huntley, 1:13-cr-00054, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
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