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Feds charge Monserrate backer

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A Miami businessman was indicted in Brooklyn federal court on charges of bribing a public official, who state campaign finance records indicate is former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate.

Lawrence Carr, of Miami-based carnival company Lawrence Carr Amusements, has been charged with bribery and bribery conspiracy after he allegedly donated money to Monserrate’s 2006 Senate campaign and nonprofit Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment, according to documents filed in Brooklyn federal court June 21.

Monserrate, who was expelled from the Senate in 2010 after being accused of assaulting his girlfriend Karla Giraldo and is currently facing fraud charges in Manhattan federal court, was not named in Carr’s indictment. But the endorsed checks to the public official, identified as “John Doe #1” in the indictment, are consistent with contributions to Monserrate’s campaign, according to state campaign finance records.

Brooklyn attorney Susan Kellman, who represents Carr, said she did not know John Doe was Monserrate and had little response to the bribery charges.

“My client has pleaded not guilty. What else is there to say?” Kellman said.

Carr, 70, was released on $200,000 bail after pleading not guilty to the bribery charges, the New York Post reported.

Monserrate, who represented the neighborhoods of East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, LeFrak City and parts of Elmhurst and Woodside when he was a senator, was not charged in the indictment.

The indictment said that on March 15, 2006, and June 28, 2006, a public official wrote letters in support of Carr’s applications to conduct his carnival business, which operates along the East Coast. Carr was granted permission around April 13-30, 2006, after the first letter was written and July 7-16, 2006, after the second letter was written. The court papers did not identify either the location of the business or say which entity gave him the go-ahead him to proceed.

A donor named Malinda Carr, who shares an address with Lawrence Carr Amusements, donated $4,000 on April 20, 2006, to Monserrate’s Senate campaign, state records showed. Carr also donated a collective $5,000 on July 10 and July 11, 2006, to Monserrate’s campaign, records showed.

These donations were all mentioned in Carr’s indictment.

Carr also donated $2,500 to a nonprofit financed by the public official, the indictment said.

The Post reported LIBRE was the nonprofit.

Monserrate is facing charges in Manhattan federal court of using more than $100,000 in Council discretionary funds he allocated to LIBRE for his Senate campaign. He was influential in selecting the board and directors and staff of the nonprofit, which ran English classes, immigration assistance, job placement programs and health education services, according to an indictment filed against Monserrate in Manhattan federal court in October 2010.

At the time of the charges levied against Carr, Monserrate was a city councilman and running for the Senate against fellow Democrat John Sabini, a race which he lost. He later ran unopposed and was elected to the Senate in 2009.

Monserrate now works at a Corona pizza place.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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