Good Will Huntley
When Lynn Smith, the niece of ex-State Sen. Shirley Huntley, wrote to a federal judge in February to beg for leniency for her indicted aunt, she neglected to mention one crucial fact of her own story: she had pleaded guilty to stealing $30,000 a week earlier.
Ms. Huntley, who will be sentenced tomorrow after pleading guilty to embezzling $87,000 and tampering with physical evidence to obstruct a probe into the theft of member item money she sponsored for a nonprofit, roped Ms. Smith and several other associates into the scheme. Ms. Smith pleaded guilty in February to stealing $30,000 in taxpayer funds from a sham nonprofit group that Ms. Huntley founded. This information was not mentioned in her letter, made public today, to Judge Jack Weinstein.
Several days ago, State Senator James Sanders reacted to the news that his predecessor wore a wire in an attempt to reduce her corruption sentence, by criticizing her for “snitching.” Well, the New York Post didn’t take kindly to that, and this morning, the publication editorialized harshly against Mr. Sanders, claiming he “seems to be endorsing the crime-abetting law of street thugs.”
Mr. Sanders released a follow-up statement this afternoon taking exception to the Post‘s characterization. “Snitching,” Mr. Sanders wrote, was only in the context of entrapment, which he insisted the editorial missed.
What You Should Know
Outspoken State Senator Rubén Díaz, Sr. is out with another one of his “What You Should Know” missives, this one addressing the recent spate of New York legislators being arrested, a list that State Senator John Sampson joined yesterday. And Mr. Díaz, in a roundabout way, very strongly suggests there’s a racial component to federal prosecutors’ targets.
“The only thing we do know that is new in these times in New York State, is the Black and Hispanic politicians are the ones being wired and sent out to root out corruption among Black and Hispanic officials,” he said in a statement dismissing alarmist rhetoric to describe the Empire State’s corruption controversies. “I would hate to think that as Black and Hispanic leaders who are elected to represent our communities, that we would be targeted to weed out corruption only in our backyards, and that we would be held to a higher standard than the non-Black and Hispanic leaders.”
After State Senator John Sampson was arrested for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme this morning, the lawmaker who replaced Mr. Sampson as the head of the Senate’s Democratic conference, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, acted swiftly by stripping him of rank and privilege.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
deja vu all over again
Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. just can’t catch a break.
Mr. Boyland, who was previously charged with soliciting bribes to pay his legal bills in an unrelated corruption trial, was indicted again last March for wire fraud charges stemming from alleged abuse of per diem requests. And he was just charged yet again today.
Law & Order
After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo is not happy about the barrage of corruption charges hitting various New York lawmakers throughout the week, including State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilman Dan Halloran and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson. Accordingly, Mr. Cuomo released a statement this afternoon detailing his disgust.
“The allegations of public corruption by City and State officials revealed this week are appalling,” the governor declared.
As expected, Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who wore a wire to help indict his colleague, Eric Stevenson, announced his resignation today. Stepping down from office, in addition to cooperating with federal authorities, were steps he took in order to avoid prosecution himself.
“Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013,” Mr. Castro said in the statement, which can be viewed in full below. “On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct. Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with …. various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Two days ago, when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said New York State corruption cases were beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, he was rather prescient. This afternoon, Mr. Bharara unsealed charges against Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, making him the third New York City lawmaker to be charged with corruption this week. Additionally, another Bronx Assemblyman, Nelson Castro, was the cooperating witness in the latest case and will resign today.
“So here we go again,” Mr. Bharara began. “This has become something of a habit. For the second time in three days, we unsealed criminal charges against a sitting member of the State Legislature. And based on what is alleged in this complaint, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant and that the ‘show me the money’ culture in Albany is alive and well.”
Malcolm in the Middle
“Today is another sad and disappointing day for every New Yorker,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced at his press conference this morning where he unsealed corruption charges against six officials–including State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran–accusing them of accepting bribes to boost Mr. Smith’s mayoral campaign.
“The charges we unsealed today demonstrate once again the ‘show me the money culture’ seems to pervade every level of New York government,” he continued. “The criminal complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany.”