The New York Criminal Law Blog

State Senator Shirley Huntley Faces Felony Charges for Corruption

She should've seen this coming. Late last year, four associates of Queens State Senator Shirley Huntley were indicted for swiping $30,000 worth of state aid from a nonprofit meant to help parents navigate the inner workings of New York City's school system. According to The New York Times, one of those charged with the theft worked on Huntley's staff. Another lived at Huntley's residence.

The nonprofit that prosecutors say never helped a soul, Parents Workshop, was set up by Huntley. Funding came from earmarks funneled by her from the state's member item fund. Despite the ties to the alleged criminal enterprise and perpetrators, State Senator Huntley was not charged back in December.

Saturday, she called a press conference to announce that she expected to be arrested but did not know what she was accused of doing.

On Monday, things became a little clearer. According to the Times, Huntley has been charged with tampering with evidence, conspiracy in the fifth degree, and falsifying business records. Taken together, those three charges seem to indicate prosecutors believe that she played an active role in covering-up the others' illegal activities.

Tampering with physical evidence is a class E felony. It involves the altering or destroying of evidence that one suspects will be used in an official proceeding (like a criminal case). A conviction on this charge would mean up to four years in prison.

The conspiracy charge is a relatively minor class A misdemeanor. It is simply agreeing with others to commit a crime. In order to prove the charge, some act in furtherance of the conspiracy must have been done as well, such as shredding an incriminating piece of paper. This crime carries up to a year in jail.

The final charge is slightly more complicated. Falsifying business records comes in two degrees. The lesser second-degree charge is falsifying records to commit a crime. For example, someone alters financial statements to make their company look more valuable. This is a class A misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.

The more severe first-degree charge is falsifying records to conceal a separate crime. An example would be doctoring records to hide previously embezzled funds. This is a class E felony, which means up to four years in prison if convicted.

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