Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
An aide to state Senator Shirley Huntley and one of the senator's housemates have pleaded not guilty to charges they stole more than $29,000 dollars in grant money intended for a New York City nonprofit founded by Huntley. Two others were also arraigned this morning in State Supreme Court in Nassau County.
Senator Huntley, D-Queens founded Parent Workshop, Inc., which was supposed to get the grant funds. The aide, Patricia Savage, and the housemate, Lynn Smith, were the president and treasurer of the organization. Huntley has not been indicted.
Senator Huntley said in a statement, “The joint investigation by the Attorney General and the Comptroller found no wrongdoing on my part. I am confident that when all of the facts are presented they will prove I acted appropriately. I will continue to cooperate fully with any legal proceedings surrounding this case.”
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced the indictments Wednesday. They said grant money was provided for parent workshops that never happened. Instead, the indictment said, Savage and Smith allegedly submitted fraudulent documents to obtain the public money through a legislative member item grant.
"This was a personal profit-making scheme that defrauded taxpayers and deprived communities of much needed funds," Schneiderman said in a statement issued by his office.
This case is the first prosecution to result from an information sharing agreement announced by the New York State Comptroller and State Attorney General's Office earlier this year. Under the agreement, the comptroller turns over information to the attorney general's office related to the misuse of taxpayer dollars, enabling that office to pursue criminal prosecution.
The next court appearance is February 2.