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Queens State Senator Pleads Not Guilty to Conspiracy Charges

By  Paul DeBenedetto and Tuan Nguyen | August 27, 2012 11:01am | Updated on August 27, 2012 4:56pm

QUEENS — State Sen. Shirley Huntley was arrested Monday on charges of covering up the theft of taxpayer money earmarked for Long Island non-profit she founded, according to sources and reports.

Huntley pleaded not guilty in a Long Island courtroom to conspiracy, a misdemeanor, and falsifying business records and evidence tampering, both felonies, according to Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

The felonies each carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison, Schneiderman's office said.

"Falsifying documents, conspiracy and deliberately tampering with an open investigation are serious crimes," Schneiderman said in a statement. "The individuals who schemed to profit at the taxpayers' expense and cover it up will be held accountable."

Huntley announced Saturday that she would turn herself in to police following a months-long investigation by the AG's office into the financial dealings of Parent Workshop, a Nassau County-based non-profit she founded, according to reports.

In December, four people associated with the group were charged with stealing about $30,000 in taxpayer funds Huntley had earmarked for the non-profit, according to reports.

According to Schneiderman's office, Huntley learned of the investigation and wrote a backdated letter "designed to fool investigators into believing that the Parent Workshop had conducted workshops that never took place."

Campaign records also show that Huntley, who represents southeast Queens, allegedly funneled tens of thousands of dollars to her husband and daughter, according to a Daily News report.

Huntley's arrest is the latest in a string of allegations against state politicians.

On Friday, Assemblyman Vito Lopez was found guilty by an ethics committee of sexually harassing two female staffers.

And earlier last week, the Post reported that Bronx Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera is under investigation for allegedly stealing from her own non-profit and hiring two former boyfriends for well-paid taxpayer-funded positions.