The board ruled that Leffler must pay $91,850 in penalty fines and repay the $296,000 his campaign illegally received in public matching funds, a spokeswoman for the Campaign Finance Board said.Leffler, a Democrat who represented northeast Queens for 24 years, was convicted last fall of campaign finance fraud, conspiracy and grand larceny for splitting one donation into 38 smaller amounts to qualify illegally for the city's matching funds program.The fines imposed by the Campaign Finance Board were not a part of the sentence.Leffler was found guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on charges he convinced Hollis real estate mogul Rita Stark to split a $10,000 contribution into smaller $250 donations so the money would qualify for the city's campaign matching funds program. The matching funds program allows candidates to get $4 in public funds for every $1 they raise in eligible gifts under $250.Leffler also told Stark to donate the funds under names of her employees, family, friends, tenants and contractors, having her forge their signatures on contribution cards, according to trial testimony.The Campaign Finance Board is demanding Leffler refund the $296,084 his campaign received in public funds during his run for Queens borough president in 2001. The board also levied $91,850 in fines against Leffler for misrepresenting the source of the funds, submitting false signature cards, submitting documents that said the money had been returned to the reported contributors when it had not and exceeding the contribution limit by $6,250, according to a news release from the board.Leffler could not be reached for comment.The board did agree to stay the payments until the state Appellate Division ruled on Leffler's appeal of his criminal conviction. The court could issue a decision this fall.If the conviction is overturned, the board could still seek the penalties, said Molly Watkins, spokeswoman for the Campaign Finance Board."The board would reconsider the case but they could still levy they penalties if the chose to."Leffler faced four years in prison for his conviction, but was sentenced in January to community service instead. He also lost his law license and was prohibited from reapplying for it for five years.Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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