Shirley Huntley’s Court Plea Lays Out New York Corruption Web

By
Photo: Danilo Calilung/Corbis

In August, State Senator Shirley Huntley told a crowd in Jamaica, Queens — her representative district — that she would be arrested the following day on embezzlement charges. It was discovered later that, between 2008 and 2009, she used an educational nonprofit to embezzle $90,000 for personal spending. The investigation left Huntley with a destroyed political career and, more important for the Big Picture, an FBI wire. Apparently, after she admitted to her wrongdoings, Huntley was approached by the FBI because they needed her help — the same tactic used with Assemblyman Nelson Castro to sniff out corruption in the Bronx last month. Today, Huntley's attorney, Susan Butler, released a sealed letter to the courts that partially reveals what the hell actually happened between now and then beyond the basics: corrupt politicians doing corrupt things.

Huntley willingly accepted the offer, insisting "she had knowledge of what she believed to be corruption involving public officials," because what the hell else was she going to do? "During the summer of 2012, Ms. Huntley upon the prompting of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI recorded and photographed the following individuals on multiple occasions," the letter states: State Senator John Sampson, Melvin Lowe (former political consultant and associate of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman), State Senator Eric Adams, State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson, State Senator Jose Peralta, State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilman Rubin Wills, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Curtis Taylor (former press advisor for Malcolm Smith).

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, "eight of the nine people recorded by Ms. Huntley were the subject of continuing criminal investigations." And we already know the deal with State Senator John Sampson and State Senator Malcolm Smith. So whoever is the Ninth Person better be thanking their lucky stars right now.

With the wiretapping in mind, her attorney ends the affidavit on a somber note, deploring the court to consider the service into others' corruption in Huntley's defense and eventual conviction.

In conclusion, the prosecution of Shirley Huntley ended her political career and devastated her family. Despite her downfall, she continues to volunteer in her community as she has done for her entire life. She has agreed to payback the money that was misappropriated and/or unaccounted for. In determining a sentence that is sufficient but not greater than necessary, Mrs Huntley asks that This Court consider her years of good works and selfless service, her family circumstances, the declining health of her children and her husband, and her assistance to the government.

Corruption can really hurt, sometimes.