Feds: At least 6 elected officials recorded by Shirley Huntley under investigation
Eight individuals secretly tape-recorded by former Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley, including at least six elected officials, are the subjects of law enforcement investigations, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said Tuesday.
The disclosure came as U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein, who will sentence Huntley on Thursday, ordered the unsealing of the names of all nine individuals she recorded at the behest of the FBI. Weinstein stayed his ruling, issued in response to a media request, for 24 hours to allow prosecutors to appeal.
The developments came a day after state Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), widely reported to be a target of Huntley's taping, was indicted on embezzlement charges, making him the ninth in a string of state and local political officials charged with corruption in the last month.
The sealed names were contained in a sentencing memorandum filed by Huntley's defense attorney.
The judge said public confidence in the sentence required materials submitted to him to be open, and the government's disclosure that Huntley taped people in June, July and August had already put those who were recorded on notice about their exposure.
"There will be no surprises to the potentially accused by the revelations of their names," the judge wrote in an eight-page ruling. "Interference with ongoing investigations will be of almost no significance."
A spokesman for Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said late Tuesday that an appeal is under consideration. Weinstein said the names would be unsealed at 2 p.m. Wednesday unless the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals intervenes.
In January, Huntley pleaded guilty to embezzling money from a nonprofit. On Friday, prosecutors revealed in a sentencing memorandum that she secretly taped seven elected officials and two others last summer. The taping produced evidence that was "useful to law enforcement" on three elected officials, but no evidence of crime on the other six, court papers stated.
Huntley's defense attorney, Sally Butler of Bayside, filed a sentencing memorandum under seal with the names of individuals Huntley taped in an effort to show Weinstein that she should get a lenient sentence because her cooperation was valuable.
Newsday and other news organizations asked for the list to be unsealed. Weinstein's ruling followed two days of hearings.
In a filing Tuesday, prosecutors said that -- while the conversations with Huntley produced useful information in only three cases -- eight of the nine people she taped "remain the subjects of ongoing criminal investigations." That number would include either six or all seven elected officials.
The government argued to Weinstein that Huntley met with many people she didn't tape last summer, so those she did tape can't be certain that they are the subjects of investigations, but will be tipped off if the names are unsealed.
"It's not the case that the defendant only met with nine," prosecutor Alex Solomon said. "She attended public events."
But Weinstein said that Albany is already abuzz with scandal and that the targets know who they are. "Every legislator who has conversed with this defendant will necessarily assume that he or she was recorded under the supervision of the FBI," he wrote.
The court's "power depends upon the people's confidence," he added. "That confidence is founded on the fact that the material judges rely on for decisions is available to the public -- decisions by which judges' work is judged."