Conviction Upheld for Swindling NYC Mayor
MANHATTAN (CN) - A New York appeals court upheld the larceny and money laundering convictions against a Republican political consultant who stole from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
During Bloomberg's 2009 re-election bid, John Haggerty Jr. conned the New York City mayor's campaign workers out of $750,000, which he promised would help the Independence Party fund a $1.1 million "ballot security operation."
After Bloomberg donated the money, Haggerty had the Independence Party transfer those funds to his shell corporation, which he claimed was the vendor for the security detail.
Haggerty reportedly spent just $32,000 on the ballot security operation and used most of the money to buy a Queens home that once belonged to his family.
A jury convicted Haggerty of second-degree grand larceny and money laundering in 2011, and the Manhattan Supreme Court sentenced him to at least 1 1/3 years in prison, plus restitution.
A five-judge panel of the Appellate Division affirmed Thursday, saying that "the verdict was based on legally sufficient evidence, and there was no unlawful variance between the indictment and the proof."
The three-page ruling notes that Bloomberg was the main victim of the fraud.
"Although the mayor could not have controlled how the Independence Party used that money, the theft was committed when Haggerty used false representations to cause the mayor to transfer the money to the party," the judges wrote. "While Haggerty also deceived the Independence Party into believing that it was paying a vendor for ballot security services when it transferred the money to Haggerty's shell corporation, the mayor remained the true victim of Haggerty's deception."
The panel also supported Haggerty's conviction on money laundering charges, writing that "since the transfer of the money from the Mayor to the Independence Party was the larceny, the evidence also proved defendants' guilt of money laundering, based on the transfer of the proceeds of the larceny from the Independence Party to the shell corporation. The evidence supports the conclusion that the transfer was designed in whole or in part to 'conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership or the control of the proceeds' of the preexisting larceny."
Haggerty, who had invoked his right not to testify at trial, had claimed that the prosecutor prejudiced him by making light of that decision.
Like the trial court, the Appellate Division found that the prosecutor's statement did not require a mistrial.
"The jury is presumed to have followed the court's prompt curative instruction, as well as its other instructions to draw no unfavorable inference from Haggerty's failure to testify," the ruling states.
The court also affirmed the conviction of Haggerty's shell company, Special Election Operations LLC, of second-degree money laundering.