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As disgraced former state Sen. and City Councilman Hiram Monserrate prepares to face sentencing for fraud convictions that could put him behind bars for up to 40 years, the girlfriend who he was found guilty of assaulting is still standing by her man.
“I know that Hiram has made mistakes,” Karla Giraldo, who Monserrate assaulted in 2008, wrote in a letter to Manhattan Federal Judge Collen McMahon last month. “We all have[.] I have made some myself. I would ... like you to know that he is the kindest men [sic] I have known.”
Monserrate and Giraldo made headlines in 2008 for an incident in which Giraldo’s face ended up slashed and video footage showed Monserrate pulling her by her arm down the stairs and through the hallway of his Jackson Heights apartment building. Monserrate received a misdemeanor assault conviction in 2009 for the crime that ended up with his being booted from the Senate — where he represented East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona — in February 2010.
He ran afoul of the courts again later in 2010 when he was hit with charges of allocating $300,000 of the discretionary funding he received as a councilman in 2005 and 2006 to the Corona-based nonprofit Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Community Empowerment Inc., then using $109,000 of the funds in 2006 to pay LIBRE employees to work on his failed Senate campaign against incumbent Sen.-John Sabini.
Prosecutors contended Monserrate also used the employees to conduct a drive of registered voters in the district in 2006 and withheld the database from the state Board of Elections until the last minute, giving him an unfair advantage.
LIBRE held English classes, helped with immigration matters, held job placement programs and offered health education services. Monserrate had a major hand in choosing its staff and board of directors.
In May Monserrate pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in the LIBRE case. Both charges carry a jail term of up to 20 years.
Giraldo dated Monserrate again after a Queens Supreme Court justice reduced her order of protection against him in July 2010.
In recent years she has maintained that Monserrate only slipped and fell with glass in his hand and had only been pulling on her because she did not want to go to the hospital. She described Monserrate in her letter as a good father to his autistic son, Gabriel, and a helper to his mother, Hilda, who is battling cancer.
“Hiram has always been very very good to me and has never [been] hurtful to me,” Giraldo wrote.
About 15 other letters defending Monserrate were also submitted to the court. Writers included Hilda Monserrate, former Flushing District Leader Martha Florez-Vasquez, former colleagues of his at the NYPD and community members who said Monserrate had helped them during his time in public office.
Monserrate’s sentencing date is Dec. 11.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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