Former Queens state Senator Shirley Huntley was sentenced Thursday to one year and one day in prison and will also have to pay back $88,000 in restitution for embezzling funds from a nonprofit in her district. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Shirley Huntley would not speak to to reporters after her sentencing Thursday, but in court, she made a brief statement of apology, taking full responsibility for her actions.
Going outside of federal sentencing guidelines, which called for 18 to 24 months in prison, the judge sentenced Huntley to one year and one day and ordered her to repay the nearly $88,000 she admitted to stealing in a guilty plea, plus a $100 fine.
Last week, it was revealed that Huntley had recorded nine different people on federal wire taps as she attempted to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's office. They include Senate colleagues John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, who are both facing charges in separate cases, as well as state Senators Jose Peralta, Velmanette Montgomery, Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Eric Adams. City Councilman Ruben Wills was also recorded.
At least six of those seven public officials are now under criminal investigation.
Despite her cooperation, the prosecutors declined to enter an agreement with Huntley because they found much of the information she provided to be "false, implausible and inconsistent."
In a passionate plea for leniency during the sentencing, Huntley's attorney told the judge that Huntley cooperated fully with the government and, as a result, the family has faced threats in their community. Huntley's husband told the judge that he was accosted this week outside a supermarket and warned that he would be "sorry" for his wife's cooperation.
Huntley's attorney went on to say that the former senator knew about a culture of corruption in Albany, and even claimed that bags of money were brought up in the state Senate elevators of the Capitol building.
The attorney said Huntley warned Governor Andrew Cuomo about pervasive corruption, and faced threats from current state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whom she also accused of corruption.
In a statement, a spokesman for Schneiderman said, "It's no surprise that the criminal is angry at the prosecutor, but Huntley's lies should not distract from the fact that today, justice was served."
In the end the judge appeared to heed the calls for leniency, not only with a shorter sentence than guidelines called for, but also by allowing her to get her affairs in order and surrender within 10 days.