N.Y. senator expects arrest

Sunday August 26, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A veteran New York state senator said Saturday that she expects to be arrested Monday in the state's continuing investigation into the use of pork-barrel grants by legislators.

Sen. Shirley Huntley, a Queens Democrat, didn't indicate what the charge against her might be. Huntley founded a nonprofit social service and education group that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating, and she funded it in part with state grants. Indictments accuse some of the groups' executives of theft. Huntley denies wrongdoing.

A spokesman for the attorney general acknowledged Hunt ley's comments but de clined to elaborate.

"The appropriate forum in which to respond to the senator is a court of law, where the attorney general will prove all facts according to the rules of evidence. Those facts will speak for themselves," spokes man James Freedland said.

A spokesman for Huntley de clined to comment further. She is facing New York City Coun cilman James Sanders Jr. in a tough Sept. 13 Democratic primary.

In December, four people were indicted on charges they schemed to pocket pork-barrel grants from Huntley, who was close to two of the suspects and who later covered it up. Two officials with the nonprofit, The Parent Workshop Inc., were ac cused of grand larceny and filing false documents to get $29,950 for work they never did teaching parents how to navigate the New York City school system.

Huntley founded the nonprofit in 2006. She wasn't charged in December in the probe by Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli, who had both said one of those indicted was a Hunt ley staffer and another shared her home. Schneiderman and Di Na poli are Democrats and Schneiderman had served in the Senate with Huntley.

Since 1999, the Legislature has distributed more than $900 million through so-called member items to 20,000 nonprofits in what are more commonly called pork-barrel grants. The grants often fund social service, health and civic groups based on the discretion of legislators in those districts. But Schneiderman is investigating abuse of the grants, which have been suspended in the past two years for budget concerns by Gov. An drew Cuomo, who also questioned the grants when he was attorney general.

In 2008-09, Huntley designated a $30,000 grant from the Department of State for the nonprofit to hire a trained professional and buy supplies for parent training. Huntley designated another $125,000 the next year for the group, which the Senate later withdrew. A subsequent grant from the Confer ence of Black Senators for $100,000 to the nonprofit was dropped in budget cuts.

The Senate's Republican ma jority engaged in a fight with Democrats in the fall elections over control the chamber.

Huntley's statement comes a day after Democratic Assem blyman Vito Lopez of the Bronx was stripped of his committee chairmanship after the Assembly ethics committee ruled he violated the chamber's sexual harassment policy.


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