Staffers at a fake nonprofit funded with taxpayer dollars by former state Sen. Shirley Huntley agreed Wednesday to pay back nearly $30,000 they stole from the state after the disgraced lawmaker pleaded guilty last week to covering up the scheme, authorities said.
Patricia Savage, a former aide to Huntley and treasurer of the Parent Workshop, and Lynn Smith, Huntley’s niece, pleaded guilty in Nassau County Supreme Court to attempted grand larceny, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who jointly announced Huntley’s indictment on fraud charges in August.
The authorities had claimed that Huntley provided false documentation vouching that Parent Workshop had conducted outreach programs to parents that never actually happened.
In the meantime, federal prosecutors had built a similar case against Huntley involving a different nonprofit, the Parent Information Network, and after she pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges in Brooklyn federal court in January, the former southeast Queens lawmaker reached a deal on her state charges and admitted to covering up Savage’s and Lynn’s theft.
Savage and Smith have agreed to pay $29,950 in restitution and each face up to five years’ probation at their sentencing, which is scheduled for March 27.
“As a result of our investigation, the taxpayers of this state will be fully reimbursed for the money stolen through this scheme,” Schneiderman said. “There are no excuses for public officials and their associates who game the system to line their pockets, and then engage in a brazen cover-up when their crimes are exposed. My office’s partnership with the comptroller is designed to combat such corruption, and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect every penny of taxpayer money during these challenging economic times.”
A third co-defendant, David Gantt, pleaded guilty Wednesday to falsifying business records in order to cover up the theft. He faces a conditional discharge when sentenced March 29.
Huntley, who agreed to repay $87,000 stolen from Parent Information Network, faces 18 months to 24 months in prison on her federal mail fraud charge when she is sentenced April 4.
In exchange for her felony guilty plea, state prosecutors recommended Huntley receive five years probation when she is sentenced in Nassau court March 29.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2013 Community News Group
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