2011-05-13 / Top Stories

Feds Probing Huntley, Smith

By Howard Schwach

The dean of the political reporting corps in Albany, Frederick Dicker, who writes for the New York Post, says that federal probers are focusing on a Queens senator under investigation for steering hundreds of thousands of public dollars to not-for-profit groups with ties to her family and friends.

State Senator Shirley Huntley, a Democrat who represents Broad Channel, received a federal subpoena seeking records and documents related to her obtaining more than $400,000 for the nonprofits through the Legislature’s notorious “member item” system of government earmarks, a source familiar with the situation told Dicker.

The federal subpoena came on top of a probe that included the issuance of state subpoenas by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, first reported by the Post in March, of possible violations involving the Huntley-connected nonprofits. State government insiders and law-enforcement sources said the Manhattan and Brooklyn district United States attorneys’ offices have broad probes of Senate members, including Huntley, underway.

The probes focus on fraudulent distribution of member-item monies, the aborted Aqueduct/AEG casino contract in 2010 involving then-Governor David Paterson and then-Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith of Queens.

Insiders said the investigations appear to be accelerating at the same time Governor Cuomo is struggling to get the Legislature to pass a sweeping ethics-reform law requiring lawmakers to fully disclose their outside incomes and the names of their clients.

“The feds are all over the Senate. They’re looking at Aqueduct, they’re looking at Huntley and other senators, and they are working at a steady pace,” said a law-enforcement insider.

“I wouldn’t expect any new big developments for at least several more months,” Dicker said in his weekly column this Monday.

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