Ex-Sen. Monserrate pleads not guilty to corruption charges
Can things get worse for Hiram Monserrate?Yes. The disgraced former state senator who was ousted from office after a domestic assault conviction was accused of tapping taxpayer money to fund his campaign in 2006. Monserrate, 43, was released on a $500,000 bond after pleading not guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy charges in Manhattan federal court. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted. When he was a Queens city councilman, Monserrate allegedly used hundreds of thousands of dollars that were set aside for nonprofits to fund a Queens Latino group that officials said he actually used to run his failed Senate campaign. He later won a seat in Albany. “No campaign should ever be funded by fraud,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “Public officials who act like they are above the law may get away with it for a while, but we will find you and we will prosecute you.” Monserrate’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, didn’t return a call for comment, but reportedly said the former politician would fight the charges.