Monday, June 14, 2010

Top Republican Indicted Over Bloomberg Campaign Funds by David Chen - City Room Blog -

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A top campaign operative for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is expected to be indicted on Monday by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in connection with charges that he stole $1 million in campaign funds, according to people familiar with the case.

The operative, John F. Haggerty Jr., 41, is expected to be charged with two counts of grand larceny and money laundering, according to people familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to upstage a new conference Monday morning by Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney.

Mr. Haggerty’s attorney, Dennis C. Vacco, could not be reached for comment on Monday morning. But during apparent plea negotiations over the past few weeks, he has declined to discuss the case.

The exact details of the financial theft prosecutors claim Mr. Haggerty committed were not immediately available.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Vance declined to comment.
A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg also declined to comment. But one person close to the mayor said that a plea deal or an indictment had been anticipated for some time. “I had expected it to be done by now so maybe the fact that it hasn’t happened yet means they’re negotiating,” this person said.

The indictment culminates an investigation by Mr. Vance’s office into what became of a $750,000 campaign payment from Mr. Bloomberg that went to a company established by Mr. Haggerty, a veteran Queens Republican leader.

Mr. Bloomberg paid the state Independence Party, whose endorsement he had won, $1.2 million last year. The party then paid $750,000 of that money to Special Election Operations L.L.C., a company established by Mr. Haggerty, to bankroll an Election Day operation in northern Queens, with up to 300 workers reportedly paid $500 each.

But the party and the Bloomberg campaign believe that operation cost considerably less than $750,000, and they say that if Mr. Haggerty kept any extra money, he was not entitled to do so.

The investigation, which has been going on for months, has already raised questions about the unusual way Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign directed the payment, using personal checks from the mayor rather than the campaign’s official account.

And while people close to the case say neither the mayor nor the campaign is a target of the investigation, an indictment could be embarrassing for Mr. Bloomberg, who is said to have trusted Mr. Haggerty as a key liaison to the city’s Republicans.

On Friday, in a sign that the case was taking a more serious turn, a Manhattan judge ordered the lawyer for the state’s Independence Party to testify before a grand jury after prosecutors argued that the party was not cooperating with the investigation.