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Deposed State Sen. Monserrate Gets 2 Years For Campaign Finance Scheme

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Deposed New York State Sen. Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to two years in prison for using tax dollars to finance his 2006 campaign.

Monserrate, a former New York City police officer and City Council member, pleaded guilty in May to one count each of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Each charge carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Monserrate, who was expelled from the state Senate, raided City Council discretionary funds intended for nonprofits.

The money was "meant as a resource for communities, not a piggy bank for politicians,'' U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in 2010.

The corruption case stemmed from when Monserrate was a member of the City Council. In 2006, he directed $300,000 to a group in his Queens district, the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment, or LIBRE.

In reality, LIBRE was an "alter ego for Monsserate's own political operation,'' Bharara said in 2010.

In an indictment, prosecutors said more than $100,000 was secretly funneled to Monserrate's failed Senate primary race. It says LIBRE spent $30,000 on a petition drive and $31,000 to register voters for the councilman.

The group paid another $48,000 in salary to employees "for doing pretty much nothing else except working on the campaign,'' Bharara said.

Monserrate ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2006 and won another race when he ran unopposed two years later.

In 2008, he was convicted of reckless assault, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to three years on probation for dragging his bleeding girlfriend through a hallway in his apartment building.

Do you think two years is a fair sentence? Leave your comments below...

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