Add former city councilman and state senator Hiram Monserrate to the list of New York City politicians who will be spending some time in the Big House. Monserrate last week pled guilty to misusing City Council discretionary funds, funneling money to a nonprofit in his district which in turn campaigned for Monserrate during his unsuccessful run for State Senate in 2006.
In all, Monserrate allocated $300,000 to Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment, known as Libre, of which $109,000 was used to pay members of the nonprofit to work on Monserrate’s campaigns.
In a deal, Monserrate pled guilty to mail fraud and mail fraud conspiracy. (We’re not sure how those charges came about, you’re going to have someone a lot smarter than us explain that, someone like a lawyer.)
Specifically, Monserrate told Libre workers to provide a database of new voters and delay handing that information over to the Board of Elections, which meant that only Monserrate knew these people were eligible to vote. The money was also used to pay Libre workers to collect signatures for Monserrate.
There is apparently an agreement with prosecutor that Monserrate would spend between 21 and 27 months in jail, but following his plea the judge in the case said that she wasn’t necessarily bound by that agreement, and noted that each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Ouch! That’s potentially a lot of time in the hoosegow!
It’s pretty fitting capper for Monserrate’s career in politics. Always a contrarian, Monserrate was famously one of two state senators who defected from the Democratic Party in the summer of 2008, just months after he was sworn into office.
The defection tipped the balance of power in the legislative body, before rejoining the Democratic Party.
But the most infamous moment in Monserrate’s public career was his assault charge for allegedly slashing his girlfriend across the face with a wine glass in December of 2008. He was eventually convicted of misdemeanor assault, and as a result become the first lawmaker in approximately 100 years to be expelled from state office.
It seems inevitable that a jail sentence would be the final chapter in such an illustrious career. Or will it?
Despite all of his past transgression, Monserrate still has a loyal base of followers and a stubborn ego, so it wouldn’t surprise us one bit to see Hiram back in politics five or so years down the road, when all of the controversy has died down.