The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Feds Must Reveal 8 New York Pols Currently Under Investigation, Judge Rules

 Albany politicians snared in recent federal corruption probes.
Judge Orders Feds to Reveal Names of 8 Pols Under Investigation
View Full Caption

BROOKLYN FEDERAL COURT — The names of eight New York politicos currently in the crosshairs of federal investigators must be unsealed for the public Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The names are contained in a pre-sentence memorandum submitted on behalf of disgraced former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who helped implicate some of the politicians while wearing an FBI wire.

Huntley, who pleaded guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court in January to stealing $87,000 in state funds from a phony charity, agreed to wear the wire between June and August 2012 to record conversations with seven politicians and two political staffers.

One of the nine public employees recorded is not under investigation, Brooklyn federal prosecutors said, but they refused to release that name.

"[Huntley] recorded meetings with eight individuals who remain under investigation and have not been publicly named," assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Spector, Paul A. Tuchman and Alexander Solomon wrote in court papers.

Prosecutors had previously said that only three politicians were under investigation.

Huntley's lawyer, Sally Butler, submitted the memo containing the names of the allegedly dirty politicians under seal  — without court authorization — on May 3, hoping for leniency from the judge during her client's sentencing.

Members of the press, including DNAinfo New York, requested Monday that the document — which would normally be public — be unsealed. The requests were made the same day that ranking Democratic state Sen. John Sampson was arraigned in a nine-count federal indictment that included charges of embezzlement, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Sampson, a Brooklyn senator whose district covers Canarsie, Crown Heights and parts of Bushwick, is reportedly "State Senator 1," whom Huntley recorded asking her to use her influence to help a legal client expand his business at JFK Airport, which was part of Huntley's district.

Federal prosecutors, whose court papers originally outed Huntley as a government mole, argued Tuesday in front of Judge Jack Weinstein that the release of the names of the public officials under investigation would violate their privacy and jeopardize the ongoing investigation.

Huntley's lawyer echoed the prosecutor's privacy argument, and added that private health issues were also contained in the sealed records.

The judge found both arguments unpersuasive.

"Every legislator who has conversed with [Huntley] will necessarily assume that he or she was recorded under the supervision of the FBI," Weinstein said in his decision. "There will be no surprises to the potentially accused by the revelations of their names. Interference with ongoing investigations will be of almost no significance."

He similarly rejected the government's privacy arguments.

"Political figures are well-equipped and have ample opportunity to respond to any accusations of wrongdoing," Weinstein rules. "Privacy interests should be trumped when evoked to protect public officials from criticism."

Over the past month, Albany politicians have been turning on one another more and more to save themselves from prison time.

Notably, Former Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro wore a wire in an investigation that led to the arrest of Assemblyman Eric Stevenson on April 4.

His arrest, meanwhile, came just two days after federal prosecutors accused Queens state Sen. Malcolm Smith of bribing New York City Republican party bosses to put himself on the ballot for mayor.

In Tuesday's ruling, Weinstein ordered that politicians' names be released at 2 p.m. Wednesday, but granted the government 24 hours to appeal his decision. Some politicians named in the court documents might have their reputations sullied, he acknowledged, even if they are not ultimately charged.

"To paraphrase President Harry Truman, 'Those who cannot stand the heat should stay out of the kitchen,'" he said. "Decent politicians can stand the heat."