Saturday, January 8, 2011
Hiram Monserrate Wants Taxpayers to Cover His "Slush Fund" Defense by Bruce Golding - NYPOST.com
In a move that almost redefines "chutzpah," disgraced ex-pol Hiram Monserrate wants taxpayers to fund his defense against charges he misused $109,000 in "slush fund" cash while he was a city councilman.
The Queens Democrat -- who got booted from the state Senate for assaulting his girlfriend -- filed court papers yesterday saying he's unemployed and has just $100 to his name.
Monserrate says he has racked up $128,000 in debt.
Defense lawyer Joseph Tacopina, who represented Monserrate in the assault case, said in the Manhattan federal-court filing that his firm contacted Monserrate in October after learning from the feds that he'd been indicted on fraud charges.
"In response, Mr. Monserrate assured us that he would have the funds available to retain us," Tacopina wrote.
But Monserrate hasn't coughed up a dime since then, and recently revealed he lacks the means to do so.
Citing the "complexity of the this case" and the "voluminous amount" of evidence, Tacopina said it would be an "undue hardship" for his firm to continue working without pay.
He asked Judge Colleen McMahon to name him Monserrate's court-appointed lawyer under terms of the federal Criminal Justice Act, which authorizes payments of $125 a hour, up to a $9,700 maximum, for felony cases.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment.