Updated 08/27/2012 11:32 PM
Queens Senator Arraigned On Conspiracy Charges
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Queens State Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of conspiracy, falsifying documents and mishandling of physical evidence in connection with her alleged involvement in a money-funneling scheme.
Huntley surrendered to authorities earlier in the morning in Mineola.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged the senator with conspiracy, tampering with physical evidence and falsifying business records.
The case is being prosecuted in Nassau County, where the non-profit Parent Workshop Inc. -- which Huntley created -- is located.
Four people, including one of Huntley's aides, were indicted in December on charges they stole $30,000 in taxpayer money that was meant for a non-profit group Huntley created.
That organization was supposed to offer educational workshops for parents and children but Schneiderman said it was a sham.
"No matter who you are you can't get away with theft, with obstruction of justice," said the attorney general.
Schneiderman said the nonprofit pocketed the cash, with the senator's help. He said the paper trail shows Huntley trying to prove the money was well-spent.
"There was a fairly elaborate effort made to create documents to make it appear that those seminars had taken place," said the attorney general.
On Saturday, Huntley held an unusual and impromptu press conference in Jamaica, Queens, saying she knew she was going to be arrested.
The senator took no questions on Monday, but her lawyer said Huntley is prepared to defend her reputation in court and supporters said they are behind her.
"She is not charged of stealing any money, being involved in any theft, of any of the taxpayer's money, of any of the funds that are in the indictment," said attorney Sally Butler.
"We have the utmost confidence in Shirley Huntley and believe that she has done no wrong. She has said that to us and as her constituents, we believe her. She has not lied to us at any time, so why should she lie to us now?" said Bishop Charles Norris of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church.
Schneiderman said the facts will come out in court.
Huntley is in the middle of a tough re-election fight. She faces two challengers in a primary on September 13, one day before the case is expected back in Nassau County Courthouse.
The senator will not be at the September 14 proceeding, according to her attorney.