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Queens Chronicle

Three more guilty in Huntley fraud probe

Ex-senator’s niece, aide, consultant reach plea deals in $29K theft

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:50 am, Thu Mar 7, 2013.

The funding scandal involving former state Senator Shirley Huntley continues to ensnare those in disgraced lawmaker’s inner circle, with three of her codefendants, including her niece, pleading guilty Wednesday for their roles in the misappropriation of state money and a subsequent coverup attempt.

The guilty pleas were announced on Wednesday in a joint statement issued by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Patricia Savage, Huntley’s former Senate aide, and Lynn Smith, Huntley’s niece, pleaded guilty in Nassau County Supreme Court to third-degree attempted grand larceny in connection with their roles in an enterprise called Parent Workshop, which the sate describes as “a bogus nonprofit” operation.

Savage was president of Parent Workshop and Smith was treasurer.

David Gantt pleaded guilty to second-degree falsifying of business records.

Huntley secured $29,950 in member item funding for the organization, which was supposed to assist families with education issues.

“The defendants falsely claimed that Parent Workshop used member item funds secured by Senator Huntley to hold workshops for and conduct outreach to parents on the workings of the New York City public school system,” the statement said, “Instead of providing such promised programs, Savage and Smith pocketed approximately $29,950.”

Gantt, they continued, falsified records to claim that he was paid in cash for conducting workshops as a consultant, “when in fact he never actually conducted any workshops.”

Savage and Smith will be sentenced by Judge Norman St. George on March 27, and Gantt on March 29.

Huntley pleaded guilty on Feb. 14 to a felony of tampering with evidence in an effort to conceal the misappropriation of the funds.

The joint investigation into the theft revealed that once Huntley learned of the probe, she created what Schneiderman and DiNapoli called a handwritten template for a false, backdated letter designed to fool investigators into believing that workshops had been conducted.

“This letter was submitted to the Attorney General’s office in response to a subpoena issued to the Parent Workshop,” the statement said.

Huntley, who is expected to get five years’ probation in the case, also is facing up to two years following her guilty plea on a federal fraud charge two weeks earlier.

In that case, she pleaded to stealing $87,000 in taxpayer money she had gotten for the Parent Information Network, another phony nonprofit group she had set up with Smith and Savage.

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