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Just weeks before the Democratic Party primary, state Sen. Shirley Huntley was dragged into a Nassau County court to face charges that she took part in a scam in which the state was allegedly bilked out of $30,000.
The news clips of the 74-year-old, who is well-liked in her district, being hauled off in handcuffs were unsettling.
Her chances may not be as good in court. The New York Post, citing confidential sources, reported last week the state is now looking into all of Huntley’s member item records.
For that reason, we join her opponents, City Councilman James Sanders and Far Rockaway resident Gian Jones, in asking Huntley to step down even though her name will remain on the ballot.
“I believe that Sen. Huntley cares deeply about our community,” he said. “This is why today with great regret I am calling on Sen. Shirley Huntley to take the high road. Step aside so that a new voice can take over and you can deal with the legal problems that you’re dealing with.”
Huntley is due to return to the Nassau County court the day after the primary.
In her first appearance, Huntley pleaded not guilty to taking part in an attempt to cover up in “a scheme to steal taxpayer dollars using a sham not-for-profit that did not provide services to the public.”
She is facing two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge brought by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
In December, Patricia Savage, a Huntley aide, and Lynn Smith, the senator’s niece, were indicted on charges that they submitted false documents to the state in order to misappropriate about $29,950 in state legislative member items that Huntley had steered to Parent Workshop Inc., her Nassau-based nonprofit. The state alleges the money was supposed to be used to pay for Parent Workshops that never actually took place.
The money was supposed to be used to help parents navigate the city’s public education system in a district where test scores are low.
If there is evidence that these workshops took place, let’s see it. If not, Huntley should show respect to her district and withdraw from the primary.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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