Former New York state Senator Shirley Huntley, who was accused of corruption involving a nonprofit group she founded, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud.
Huntley, a Democrat from Queens, entered her plea today before U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in Brooklyn, admitting that she embezzled $87,700 from the Parents Information Network, which purportedly helped educate parents about the New York public school system.
Huntley, who served in the state Senate from 2007 to December 2012, said during a hearing today that she and an associate used some of the group’s money, which largely came from the state, “for personal shopping.”
“I’m guilty,” she said while seated at a long table in the courtroom with her defense attorney, the judge and federal prosecutors.
She faces a sentence of as long as two years in prison under her plea deal with the government. She also agreed to pay $87,700 to the New York State Department of Education and $1,000 to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as restitution for an unrelated bribery scheme involving a cargo-handling business at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to prosecutors.
“This guilty plea underscores our unwavering commitment to hold responsible those who abuse their authority and pursue their own financial interests instead of the public interest,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
In a separate case in New York state court in suburban Nassau County, Huntley was indicted for conspiracy, tampering with evidence and falsifying business records. She was accused of using another nonprofit, Parent Workshop Inc., to divert about $30,000 in public money to an aide and to her niece.
Huntley vowed to fight those charges, according to a statement from her office in August. Huntley and her attorney, Sally Butler, declined to comment after today’s hearing.
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