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Legal Trouble for Monserrate's Legal Defense Fund

Friday, October 22, 2010

WNYC

A legal defense fund created by Hiram Monserrate before he was kicked out of the New York legislature may be his latest legal headache. Monserrate raised money for the fund by seeking donations from registered lobbyists and people with business before the state. Also, some of the money given to fund may have exceeded the state's cap on gifts to lawmakers. 

According to the Legislative Ethics Commission, about 70 donors made 84 contributions totaling $128,945 to the fund. 

The Daily News, which first reported the Commissions finding, said the matter was forwarded to the Albany County District Attorney for review. But Spokeswoman Heather Orth of the Albany DA's office told WNYC via email this morning that they have not received the complaint.

A message left at the office for Monserrate's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, was not immediately returned.

The defense fund was supposed to help Monserrate, a former city Councilman and freshman State Senator from Jackson Heights, Queens, stay out of trouble.

Monserrate was raising the money to defend himself from criminal accusations that he assaulted his girlfriend by breaking a glass across her face. He was convicted of a lesser charge associated with dragging her out of the building that night to get medical treatment. Later, colleagues in the State Senate voted to remove him from office.

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