Guilty pleas in theft of public funds

State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) was indicted in

State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) was indicted in August on charges that she took part in a scheme to funnel public money into a phony not-for-profit organization that she created. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of fifth-degree conspiracy, tampering with evidence and falsifying business records. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Three co-defendants of former Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley pleaded guilty Wednesday for their roles in stealing $29,950 in public funds for their own use and covering it up, state officials said.

Patricia Savage -- Huntley's aide and president of Parent Workshop, a bogus nonprofit -- and Lynn Smith, its treasurer and Huntley's niece, pleaded guilty to a felony, third-degree attempted grand larceny, in State Supreme Court in Mineola, according to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Savage and Smith agreed to repay the amount, the officials said.

The funds, secured by Huntley, were supposed to be used for workshops and outreach to parents in the New York City public school system.

But a joint investigation by the two state offices found the money had been pocketed by Savage and Smith, officials said.

The scheme also involved David Gantt, a former Huntley aide, who Wednesday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, second-degree falsifying business records. He made up records that said he had been paid in cash for conducting workshops when in reality he never did the work and didn't get any money.

The pleas come after Huntley admitted last week to falsifying evidence to cover up the theft in the state's case. In federal court last month, Huntley pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $87,000 in public funds from another nonprofit she controlled, Parents Information Network.

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"There are no excuses for public officials and their associates who game the system to line their pockets and then engage in a brazen cover up when their crimes are exposed," Schneiderman said in a news release.

Sentencing in State Supreme Court has been scheduled for March 27 for Savage and Smith, and March 29 for Gantt.

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