Ex-State Sen. Shirley Huntley Gets One Year in Prison for Nonprofit Scam
NEW YORK CITY — Disgraced ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley received a relatively light sentence on Thursday for siphoning cash from a sham nonprofit, with a judge citing the wire-wearing politician's cooperation with investigators and her family's health problems as the reason.
A downcast Huntley appeared resigned to her fate in Brooklyn Federal Court as Judge Jack Weinstein gave her a year and a day in prison and three years probation. She faced up to two years behind bars.
The sentencing came after her husband, Herbert Huntley, tearfully pleaded to Weinstein to show leniency and spoke emotionally about threats his family received over his wife's cooperation with the feds and their daughter's mounting health problems.
The husband told the judge that a unknown man accosted him on Friday at a South Jamaica supermarket, warning him that his wife should never have worn a wire to record elected officials at her home last year.
"[The man] grabbed me by my jacket. He said, 'You know your wife did something terrible," he recalled. "If she continues to do the things she's doing, you and she are both going to be sorry."
Huntley secretly recorded seven elected officials and two political aides over the course of three months last summer. Eight of those caught on tape are now the targets of criminal investigations, according to Brooklyn federal prosecutors.
Sally Butler, Huntley's lawyer, told the judge that her client's family had serious health problems. The Huntley's daughter suffered a stroke brought on by the stress of her mother's criminal case.
Butler also claimed Huntley went to the FBI with information about corruption involving New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The lawyer added that Huntley went to the feds "at the time she being investigated by Schneiderman" and that his office threatened to "blow her up" with the fraud case it was prosecuting against her at the time.
Schneiderman's office dismissed Butler's claims.
"Attorney General Schneiderman's commitment to rooting out political corruption is the reason he was the first prosecutor to indict Shirley Huntley and why she is going to prison for lying and stealing," his office said in a statement Thursday. "It's no surprise that the criminal is angry at the prosecutor, but Huntley's lies should not distract from the fact that today justice was served."
Butler also said that Huntley recalled seeing "bags of cash" lying in front of elevators in the state Senate building.
Huntley pleaded guilty in January to mail fraud for taking nearly $88,000 from a taxpayer-funded nonprofit to pay for shopping sprees.
With her hands trembling, Huntley, 74, also asked Weinstein for leniency, telling him that she wants to "spend my remaining years trying to redeem myself."