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Former Campaign Worker Guilty of Stealing From Mayor

By DNAinfo Staff on October 21, 2011 12:20pm  | Updated on October 21, 2011 7:02pm

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A former campaign worker charged with stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg was found guilty of second-degree grand larceny and money laundering Friday.

John Haggerty was acquitted of the top charge against him, first-degree grand larceny, because the jury wasn't convinced he'd taken the full $1.1 million, some jurors said after the verdict. The charge drops to second degree if the amount is less than $1 million.

He still faces a maximum of five to 15 years in prison, but could also be sentenced to probation.

Haggerty was accused of stealing funds Bloomberg donated to the Independence Party to be used for ballot security and poll watching services at thousands of poll sites across the city on Election Day 2009, when Bloomberg was running for his third term.

Prosecutors said Haggerty funneled the money through a shell company and used it to pay for a house in Queens.

“John Haggerty abused the electoral process to enrich himself," said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in a statement. "I thank the jurors for their service and careful attention in this case."

During the one-month trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, in which the mayor and several of his current and former top aides took the witness stand, the defense tried to argue that Bloomberg was not the victim.

Haggerty's lawyer, Raymond Castello, even argued that the mayor "committed campaign finance fraud because he made an expenditure related to his campaign and he didn't report it."

The mayor's office said the verdict was a victory for Bloomberg.

"For months the defense has attempted to cast aspersions on Mayor Bloomberg and make him the focus of this case," said spokesman Jason Post.

"We are pleased that the jury saw through their cynical efforts and reached a verdict based on the evidence and the law. We thank the District Attorney for bringing the case and successfully prosecuting it."

Haggerty was ordered held on $250,000 bail Friday afternoon by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel, revoking his earlier release without bail.

Prosecutors argued he is a flight risk, citing an e-mail they in which they say Haggerty claims he has an Irish passport. But Haggerty, through another one of his attorneys, Dennis Vacco, denied having a passport.

After the verdict, Vacco told reporters they are pleased with the acquittal on the top charge but disappointed with the overall verdict. They plan to appeal.

Juror Stephen Conroy said it was obvious Haggerty took the amount that he did for personal use because he cut a check for his house the same day he received a large wire transfer from the Independence Party.

He and a few of the other jurors said the trial opened their eyes to the world of political campaigns after listening to hours of testimony about the 2009 mayoral campaign from insiders and experts.

Juror Piper Gray told reporters the trial made her skeptical about political contributions. 

"I had no opinions and now I'm probably never going to donate to a campaign," Gray said.