Former Queens State Senator Hiram Monserrate has been sentenced to 24 months in prison after admitting in federal court that he misused tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money.
Monserrate admitted in court to diverting city council discretionary funds to his failed 2006 state senate campaign and became emotional in telling Judge Colleen McMahon how the sentence would impact his family, particularly his 16-year-old autistic son and elderly mother battling cancer. He was ordered to surrender on March 11.
Prosecutors had said Monserrate used money, which was allocated to a nonprofit group, the Latino Initiative for Better Resources (LIBRE), as his own "political piggy bank." Monserrate admitted in court on Tuesday that he misused more than $94,000 in council discretionary funds.
While a City Council member in 2006, Monserrate diverted about a third of $300,000 in taxpayer funds that he had procured for LIBRE, court papers said. Prosecutors said he used that money to finance his failed 2006 state senate campaign, spending it on a voter's registration drive, canvassing and a petition drive and to pay LIBRE employees for that work.
Monserrate was convicted in October 2009 on an unrelated misdemeanor assault charge for attacking his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo. He was sentenced to probation and counseling, and was subsequently expelled from the State senate by a vote of his colleagues.
Monserrate then lost an attempt to win back his senate seat at the polls. He later tried to run for the state assembly from the same area, but lost that race as well.