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County’s Gallery of Rogues has breached public’s trust

Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi and late Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio are both on the borough's lengthy list of corrupt lawmakers.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The arrest of borough politicians in an alleged bribery plot made headlines around the nation Tuesday, but in Queens, handcuffed elected officials has unfortunately become an ongoing tradition.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis), City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vince Tabone were not yet formally charged in the alleged plot to bribe Smith’s way onto the Republican mayoral ticket, but others throughout Queens’ not-so-distant past have pleaded, been convicted and often sentenced to prison for a wide range of corrupt activities.

• State Sen. Shirley Huntley was sentenced last week to five years of probation in State Supreme Court for stealing more than $87,000 from a sham nonprofit to fund shopping sprees and pay off her credit card bill, as well as conspiring to cover up the theft of $30,000 in taxpayer money. She faces up to two years behind bars at an upcoming federal sentencing for the same crimes.

John Haggerty, a member of the insurgent faction of the Queens GOP, began serving a year prison sentence in March after he was convicted in December of stealing $750,000 in campaign funds from Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.

• Former Assemblyman Jimmy Meng was sentenced in March to one month in prison, a $30,000 fine and years of probation for accepting an $80,000 bribe in a fruit basket last summer. He told an acquaintance the money would be used to bribe Manhattan prosecutors, but according to the feds, he simply planned to keep the cash.

• Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate was sentenced in December 2012 to two years in prison and slapped with a roughly $80,000 fine for misusing $109,000 in taxpayer money to further his own re-election.

• State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was sentenced in April 2011 to four years in prison, but he was released after 20 months. Hevesi approved a $250 million pension investment in exchange for nearly $1 million in benefits from a California businessman named Elliott Broidy.

• Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio was sentenced in February 2010 to six years behind bars after he was convicted of influence peddling and taking more than $1 million in payments from entities doing business with the state. He died in prison in January 2011.

• Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin was sentenced in May 2009 to a decade in prison and a fine of $25,000 on racketeering charges. McLaughlin embezzled and used fraud and bribes to take money from borough taxpayers, labor unions and contractors — including a Queens Little League team.

• City Councilman Dennis Gallagher was fined $160 in March 2008 after he admitted to forcibly touching a woman in his office while intoxicated. He was initially charged with sexual assault.

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