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Feds: Monserrate used charity to fund campaign

By: The Associated Press//October 19, 2010

Feds: Monserrate used charity to fund campaign

By: The Associated Press//October 19, 2010

Hiram Monserrate

NEW YORK CITY — A disgraced New York politician who was expelled from the state Senate after a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting his girlfriend was accused Tuesday of funding his 2006 campaign with money that was supposed to go to charity.

An indictment charges Queens Democrat Hiram Monserrate with mail fraud and conspiracy. He was appear later Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.

Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina said his client intends to plead not guilty and “vigorously fight the charges.”

The corruption case stems from when Monserrate was a member of the City Council. In 2006 and 2007, prosecutors say, he directed $300,000 in so-called discretionary funds to a nonprofit called Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment, or LIBRE.

The indictment alleges that $100,000 was secretly funneled to Monserrate’s council re-election and Senate primary campaigns.

The former councilman, the indictment says, “failed to disclose the fact that LIBRE was using council discretionary funds for partisan political activities, even though procurement rules required him to report such corruption at LIBRE.”

Monserrate was convicted of reckless assault, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to three years on probation for dragging his bleeding girlfriend through a hallway in his apartment building.

He was acquitted of intentionally smashing her face with a glass. The wound near her eye required about 40 stitches. Both said it was accidental. They said surveillance footage of Monserrate dragging her actually showed him trying to get her to a hospital.

Monserrate was ousted from the Senate in February on a 53-8 vote, about two months after his sentencing.

Last year, he and fellow Democrat Pedro Espada Jr. ignited a coup in the Senate by joining a Republican-dominated coalition that overthrew the majority. The deadlock lasted a month before it was resolved.

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