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Monserrate indicted in slashing

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A grand jury has indicted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D−East Elmhurst) on assault charges for allegedly slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass during a fight in December, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, jeopardizing the freshman senator’s standing in the state Legislature.

The six−count indictment charged Monserrate, 41, with three counts of second−degree assault, a Class D felony, and three counts of third−degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor, Brown said. His arraignment was expected later in the week, the DA said. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison, the DA said.

Monserrate has denied attacking his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, 29, saying he fell into her with the glass in his hand. Giraldo has also claimed it was an accident.

The indictment prompted Monserrate to step down as chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Affairs Committee.

“I have accepted his request and such action is effective immediately,” Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D−St. Albans) said in a statement. “Sen. Monserrate will retain his duties as a member of the state Senate during this time, but will not have the privilege of serving as chair until such time as his legal proceedings have been completely resolved.”

Early in the morning on Dec. 19, 2008, Monserrate got into an argument with Giraldo after he found another man’s police union card in her purse. During the fight, he broke a water glass and struck her in the face with it, prosecutors said.

Monserrate, who lives in Jackson Heights, drove Giraldo to North Shore−Long Island Jewish Hospital, where she received stitches around her left eye. Medical staff there contacted police.

Monserrate’s lawyer, Irving Seidman, has accused the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Scott Kessler, of misrepresenting the nature of Giraldo’s injury, noting the police report and the nurse’s paperwork both indicated she had told officials she was “struck” by the glass, not attacked.

“These statements are fabrications by the speaker at those two court appearances,” Seidman said after a February court appearance, asking the court to bar Kessler from participating in the potential criminal trial.

Kessler has disputed the claims Seidman made in a letter to the DA’s office, citing the deposition of the officers that responded to the hospital.

“I’ve read the letter,” Kessler said last month. “I don’t think anything in there indicates anything, but what we presented.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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