Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson 'perplexed' she was secretly taped by former Sen. Huntley
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State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Mount Vernon) was among six lawmakers secretly taped by former Queens state Sen. Shirley Huntley last year at the behest of the FBI, according to a sentencing memo from her lawyer that was unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn.
According to the filing, the FBI recorded and photographed Hassell-Thompson, along with Sens. John Sampson, Velmanette Montgomery, Malcolm Smith, Eric Adams and Jose Peralta. Huntley also recorded meetings with New York City Councilman Rubin Wills; Curtis Taylor, a former press adviser to Smith; and Melvin Lowe, identified as a former political consultant and associate of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who also lobbied for the Ridge Hill project in Yonkers.
Hassell-Thompson, 70, has served in the State Senate since 2000 and was a Mount Vernon councilwoman for seven years before that. She is expected to run for re-election next year but is considering a run for Mount Vernon mayor in 2015.
Hassell-Thompson issued a statement late Wednesday night in which she admitted meeting with Huntley, but denied wrongdoing.
"Having devoted my entire life to public service, with integrity and purpose, I was perplexed to learn my name was mentioned in the sentencing memorandum submitted by counsel for Shirley Huntley," Hassell-Thompson wrote. "To be sure, Shirley Huntley invited me to lunch in 2012. We met and spoke, in general, about matters including our health and our families.
"At no time - past or present - did we discuss anything inappropriate, improper or illegal. My record is above reproach. I am certain, as are my colleagues and my constituents, that the government's investigation has already cleared my name and affirmed my credibility."
Prosecutors have said eight of the nine are subjects of ongoing criminal investigations, but have not said which one is not under investigation.
The filing, among a blizzard of public corruption cases filed during the last month in federal courts in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said, "Mrs. Huntley met with attorneys for the government and FBI agents regularly over a six-month period. During her interviews with the government, she advised them that she had knowledge of what she believed to be corruption involving public officials."
According to the filing, Huntley "was asked by the government's attorneys and FBI agents to invite certain individuals into her home and record conversations on behest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Huntley pleaded guilty to embezzling money from a nonprofit in January, after wearing a wire. She will be sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein, who ordered the names unsealed.
Smith was charged in a corruption case in federal court in Manhattan last month, and Sampson was charged in a case in Brooklyn federal court this week.