AUGUST 29, 2012
A New York lawmaker known as an advocate of education equality for poor minorities, has been indicted for stealing thousands of taxpayer dollars she steered to a fake charity that claimed to help poor parents navigate the city’s school system.
Photos of the 74-year-old state senator, Shirley Huntley, being hauled away in handcuffs are downright shameful. Dressed in a powder-blue skirt suit with a white shirt, the accused legislator blurted out that it was a “great day,” according to a local newspaper report. This is the same publication that actually inspired the state to investigate the Democrat from Queens by first poking into the corrupt operation.
It turns out that Huntley steered nearly $30,000 in taxpayer money to the fake nonprofit called Parent Workshop, according to the New York Attorney General’s office, which issued the 20-count indictment this week. The fake charity claimed to help low-income folks deal with the city’s huge and complicated public school system. Instead, authorities say, the money was pocketed by Huntley’s niece, who served as the group’s treasurer, and another man, who is listed as president.
When authorities started snooping around, the senator falsified documents to cover up the corruption. She “personally wrote a template for a false, backdated letter designed to fool investigators into believing that the Parent Workshop had conducted workshops that never took place,” according to the Attorney General. Then the senator submitted it to the Attorney General’s office in response to a subpoena.
A local newspaper editorial points out that a number of other public officials have been charged with corruption lately in New York, but Huntley sticks out for the “sheer brazenness” of the way she is accused of acting in the pursuit of money. “This was almost entirely about her greed,” the piece says, adding that, it could constitute the most offensive example yet of legislators betraying the people they’re supposed to serve.
Huntley joins a disgraceful club of New York Democrats under fire for their recent transgressions. This month alone, several state agencies announced that Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera is being investigated for putting her lovers on the public payroll and a state ethics panel charged Assemblyman Vito Lopez with sexually harassing female aides.
A few months ago another state senator, Carl Kruger, received a seven-year sentence for bribery and his colleague, Pedro Espada, got convicted for stealing tax dollars earmarked to fund healthcare for the poor. The Espada probe dates back to 2010 and exposed how the crooked lawmaker funneled money from his network of nonprofit health clinics to a for-profit business that enriched him and financed his political campaign.
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