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A consultant has been convicted of stealing $1.1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Haggerty said he would run a poll-watching operation for Bloomberg’s campaign, The Associated Press reports. He drew up a $1.1 million budget that covered hiring drivers and more than 1,300 watchers, plus renting hotel rooms. Ultimately, the AP reports, he only spent $32,000 on poll-watching and diverted the rest to himself, using $750,000 to buy his father’s house.
Reuters reports that the jury found Haggerty guilty of second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering but cleared him of first-degree grand larceny. Haggerty, 42, could serve up to 15 years in prison.
Haggerty didn’t do a great job of covering his tracks, several jurors told Reuters. On two occasions, he received large payments from the state Independence Party -- $83,000 and $50,000 – and wired those amounts on the same day as payments on his house. "It's just entirely too obvious," juror Piper Gray told Reuters. "At least wait a couple of days."
Poll-watching, or ballot security, is a controversial practice that dispatches volunteers, lawyers or inspectors to polling sites to discourage voter fraud, the New York Times reports. Democrats have said that it suppresses legitimate voters and is often used in districts with large minority populations, the AP reports.
Bloomberg’s campaign paid Haggerty for his services though a donation to the Independence Party – to avoid public scrutiny, the defense said – which then passed the money along to the consultant, the AP reports. The defense argued that once the mayor made the donation, he had no say over how it was spent.
The defense also argued that Bloomberg wanted to win a third term so badly that he would have donated the money no matter what Haggerty promised to provide, the New York Times reports. “Nobody cared what was on (Haggerty’s) budget, and because they did not care, they did not rely on that budget,” Dennis C. Vacco, one of Haggerty’s lawyers, said, according to the New York Times.
According to Reuters:
The rare spectacle of a city mayor testifying in open court drew a packed courtroom. Bloomberg, who is notoriously impatient with press questioning, was forced to endure hours of aggressive cross-examination from a defense lawyer intent on making his wealth and power the focus of the case.