The political operative charged with swindling money from Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants his case tossed out.
John Haggerty, who is accused of stealing more than $1.1 million from the mayor's 2009 campaign, appeared in State Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Prosecutors argue Haggerty convinced the mayor to give a personal $1.2 million check to the state Independence Party to help guard against election fraud and ensure ballot security.
They say the operation was a phony one that cost $32,000, and the Republican consultant instead used most of the money to pay for a house and other personal expenses.
However, Haggerty's attorneys said their client did his job and prosecutors are at fault.
"They knew they were going to get ballot security and they did get ballot security...," said defense attorney Dennis Vacco. "I think that their knee-jerk reaction was that Haggerty was engaged in some black box, Gordon Liddy-type nefarious conduct. And when they found out otherwise, they were stunned. This is not the case they thought they were latching onto when they read the press reports."
Haggerty's next court date is scheduled for March 14, when a judge will decide if a trial will proceed.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including grand larceny.
An aide to the mayor declined to comment on the testimony and said the district attorney asked the mayor to refrain from speaking about the case. Should the case go to trial, Bloomberg may be subsequently called as a witness.
The allegations against the mayor's former campaign aide may raise questions about how Bloomberg has chosen to spend his money in the political arena.