Court Of Appeals Will Hear Haggerty Case (Updated)
Thanks to New York’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, the state’s highest court will hear the appeal of a veteran GOP consultant convicted of stealing $750,000 worth of Mayor Bloomberg’s money contributed to the state Independence Party during the 2009 New York City mayor’s race and intended to be used for an Election Day voting security program.
Lippman granted John Haggerty leave to appeal on July 16. Last year, according to Court of Appeals spokesman Gary Spencer, it took – on average – 11 months between leave granted and oral arguments, plus another month before the justices rendered a decision.
Haggerty was convicted of second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering in October 2011 and sentenced two months later to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. He fought that conviction for 17 months, but this past March was ordered to start serving his sentence after a midlevel appellate court denied his last appeal in February.
According to one of his attorneys, former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco, Haggerty is serving his sentence at Dannemora Prison (formally known as the Clinton Correctional Facility). By the time the court makes a decision in his case, Haggerty will have served the bulk of his sentence, so it’s likely his legal team will make a motion for his release pending that ruling – if they haven’t already done so.
UPDATE: One of Haggerty’s attorney’s Paul Shechtman, emailed to say he hopes to file that motion Monday.
I did reach Vacco, who said he was very happy to learn Lippman had granted the appeal – especially since the lower court’s rejection of Haggerty’s motion had been unanimous. It’s very unusual for the high court to agree to take a case when a lower court decision is so uniform. There must be something here that really piqued the chief judge’s interest. But the paperwork that appears below is pretty boilerplate and doesn’t offer any insight into his thinking.
If the Court of Appeals vacates Haggerty’s conviction, his indictment will still stand, Vacco said. That means Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., who brought this case, will have to decide whether to retry it at a time when Bloomberg will be long gone from City Hall and probably not eager to dredge this whole mess up again.
The case in a nutshell: Bloomberg contributed $1.2 million to the state Independence Party during his campaign for a third term in 2009 after he successfully lobbied the NYC Council to overturn term limits, enabling him to seek another four years in office.
The party, in turn, hired Haggerty to run an Election Day voter protection operation, but later maintained he had never delivered that service, instead stealing some $750,000 worth of the billionaire mayor’s money and using it to purchase the Queens home in which he grew up.
Vacco said Shechtman, had argued (apparently successfully) that the jury in this case was never adequately instructed as to who victim was – the Independence Party, as Haggerty’s defense team mantained – or Bloomberg himself.
“If it wasn’t for the fact that Michael Bloomberg was at the center of all of this, none of this would have happened,” Vacco told me.
Bloomberg testified against Haggerty during his trial.
After the trial, the NYC Campaign Finance Board reviewed Bloomberg’s contribution to the Independence Party’s housekeeping account (remember: no contribution limits apply here). At the time that the mayor gave the party that hefty check, the board had declared that personal contributions to political committees would soon have to be disclosed, but the new rule had not yet gone into effect.
Last October, the CFB decided the mayor’s campaign had not violated the campaign finance law outright, but had “contravened the spirit of disclosure” by moving “deliberately to avoid” his contribution from being made public.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on July 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm, and is filed under Consultants, Downstate NY, Independence Party, Michael Bloomberg, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|