Ex-Sen. Monserrate gets 2 years in prison

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Hiram Monserrate, center, exits Manhattan Federal Court after being sentenced. (Photo by Charles Eckert)

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By Ivan Pereira

Comparing him to Richard Nixon, a federal judge sentenced Hiram Monserrate to two years for filling his campaign coffers with taxpayer money.

Despite a teary-eyed plea for mercy from the disgraced state senator and former city councilman, Judge Colleen McMahon didn’t hold back her anger against Monserrate for using more than $94,000 in discretionary funds for political campaigns instead of community services.

MBesides comparing the 45-year-old former cop to Nixon, who famously resigned from the White House in disgrace, she said his crimes against the city’s taxpayers were inexcusable.

“When Dante wrote the ‘Divine Comedy’ he assigned crimes to different circles of hell,” she said. “Using people’s money for your own purposes is deep down in that circle of hell.”

Monserrate pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud charges in May. While he was in the City Council in 2006, Monserrate allocated more than $94,800 to a Queens nonprofit called Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment.

The group illegally used the money to pay for campaign workers and events during Monserrate’s bid for the state Senate that year, according to an investigation.

The disgraced politician cried as he tried to apologize to the judge. His attorneys sent 16 letters from community members who asked for leniency and several of his confidants packed the court to show their support.

Monserrate admitted his wrongdoing but said he was trying to help his constituents.

“I fully understand this was a violation of the law and I disappointed everyone,” he said as he wiped away tears.

McMahon didn’t buy his excuses or apologies and said his 24-month sentence would send a clear message to corrupt politicians.

“They lesson they should learn is that anytime and every time an elected officials is caught reaching into the public till, they will go to prison,” she said.

The state senate expelled Monserrate in 2010 after he was convicted in a bench trial for dragging his girlfriend out of their Jackson Heights apartment following a fight where he allegedly cut her face with a glass.

A Queens judge exonerated him for the assault charge after Karla Giraldo recanted her story about the fight.

She was in the courtroom during Tuesday’s sentencing but didn’t appear emotional or speak to the press.

McMahon ordered Monserrate to report to prison in March and to pay restitution.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 at 5:33 pm and is filed under amNewYork, Breaking News, Crime, Newsday, Politics, Print Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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