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Hiram’s conviction upheld

TimesLedger Newspapers

Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate lost in court again Friday when the state Court of Appeals confirmed his misdemeanor assault conviction for dragging his girlfriend Karla Giraldo through his Jackson Heights apartment in December 2008, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

A panel of four judges determined the evidence against Monserrate, whose conviction eventually led to his February 2010 expulsion from the Senate, was sufficient to render Queens Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum’s October 2009 guilty verdict, the DA said.

The evidence cited included Giraldo’s “weakened state from severe facial injuries, the manner in which the injuries to her arm were inflicted” and “the visual depiction of [Giraldo’s] facial expressions in reaction” to Monserrate’s attack, the DA said.

Monserrate and Giraldo had an argument in his apartment December 2008 over another man’s card, which he found in her purse. During the argument, Giraldo’s face ended up being slashed with glass. The two later claimed it was an accident, although the medical staff at North Shore-LIJ, where Monserrate took Giraldo, testified they thought the slashing was deliberate.

Giraldo received about 40 stitches around her left eye, the DA said.

Erlbaum ended up dropping the charge related to the face-slashing but hit Monserrate with misdemeanor assault after a surveillance video showed him dragging Giraldo by the arm down the stairs and through the lobby of his apartment building.

After being convicted, Monserrate was sentenced in December 2009 to three years supervised probation, 52 weeks of counseling, 250 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine, the DA said. Giraldo also received an order of protection against Monserrate that prevented him from contacting her, but Erlbaum reduced the protection order July 14, 2010, and they have been dating ever since.

“The Appellate Division’s affirmance of the trial court’s verdict and sentence conveys a clear message that domestic violence is a serious crime that can never be condoned,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Giraldo filed a $35 million suit against the city, the Queens district attorney’s office and North Shore-LIJ in December 2010, alleging the doctors conspired with the city to coerce her into saying Monserrate had assaulted her.

Monserrate is also facing charges in Manhattan federal court of using more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funds allocated to the nonprofit LIBRE to finance his 2006 Senate campaign against former Sen. John Sabini, according to court papers. Monserrate was influential in selecting the nonprofit’s board and staff members.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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