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Huntley supporter says case racially motivated

TimesLedger Newspapers

The primary election got a jolt Tuesday after a supporter of state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) distributed leaflets claiming the indicted senator is the victim of racially motivated actions by the state attorney general.

Huntley supporter and Rochdale Village Vice President Joe Evans accused Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of a “political lynching” in the indictment of Huntley, who is accused of interfering in a state probe into an alleged scam to bilk taxpayers out of close to $30,000.

Evans distributed the leaflets throughout Rochdale Village and also posted the message as “A Call to Action” on the area’s website, The Rochdale Advocate. In the message, Evans said Schneiderman purposely waited until just before the Democratic Party primary to bring charges against Huntley.

Huntley is facing City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) in this week’s primary.

“Not only did the political lynch mob led by Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat, wait just days before the election to bring charges, he planned weeks ago to arrest Sen. Huntley at her home where news outlets could take pictures of her in handcuffs,” Evans wrote. “They planned to parade the 72-year-old southeast Queens elected official in front of the media to try and convince her supporters (black folks) into thinking she is guilty before the trial, more importantly before the election.”

Evans’ racially charged statement went on to say that “we as black folks should immediately be able to identify this method of political lynching. Sen. Huntley is not the first black elected official to be unfairly targeted.”

Huntley pleaded not guilty in Nassau County in August to two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge in what Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called an attempt to cover up “a scheme to steal taxpayer dollars using a sham not-for-profit that did not provide services to the public.”

In December, Schneiderman’s office indicted Patricia Savage, a Huntley aide, and Lynn Smith, the senator’s niece, on charges of submitting false documents to the state in order to misappropriate about $29,950 in state legislative member items that Huntley had steered to Parent Workshop Inc., her Nassau-based nonprofit.

Neither Evans, the Rochdale Village board of directors nor Huntley’s office returned requests for comment.

Sanders, who is challenging Huntley in the 10th Senate District, denounced the written attack on Schneiderman.

“In America everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Sen. Huntley deserves her day in court. However, we strongly condemn the attack that Sen. Huntley and her supporters have made on the attorney general of New York state,” he said.

“There is a culture of corruption in Albany and we applaud the attorney general’s effort to restore the public’s confidence in their leaders. It is time that we hold our elected officials accountable and make character a qualification for holding public office.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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