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Sen. Shirley Huntley pleads guilty to theft

Trudy Tomlinson Special to the AmNews | 2/7/2013, 3:46 p.m.

Disgraced ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley, the former Queens Democrat, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $87,000 from a sham nonprofit to fund shopping sprees and pay off her credit card bills, it was reported on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

"I'm guilty," she admitted, seated with her defense attorney before the judge and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Huntley, 74, who was elected into office in 2007, siphoned thousands of dollars from the nonprofit's bank account to herself and family members from 2005 to 2008. Huntley's charity was founded to help parents better understand the issues related to New York City public schools and also gain their involvement.

The media reported that if charged, Huntley faces up to two years in prison on federal mail fraud charges. She must reimburse the taxpayers $87,000 in stolen funds and pay back the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey $1,000 for an apparent bribery scheme in which cargo supplies were moved from JFK Airport. She also faces sentencing in Nassau County Supreme Court.

Back in August of last year, when the corruption scandal first broke, Huntley called a press conference in front of her home located in Jamaica, Queens. "I want my day in court," she said. "I don't know the charges. I have no idea what this is about." Huntley said she called the press conference because she did not want her supporters to "wake up in the morning or tonight or tomorrow and see it on the news."

James Sanders Jr., former senator of the 31st District, replaced Huntley as state senator of the 10th Senate District in Queens in November of last year, when she was voted out of office.