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GOP operative accused of stealing $1m

Associated Press / June 15, 2010

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NEW YORK — A Republican operative was indicted yesterday on charges that he exploited his political reputation to swindle $1.1 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, prosecutors said.

John Haggerty duped Bloomberg and his political advisers into giving the money to the state Independence Party to help with ballot security during the mayor’s campaign for a third term, said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Haggerty then laundered the money and used it for personal expenses in the months after the election, including the purchase of a house, Vance said.

Haggerty, who now works for Carl Paladino, the Buffalo businessman running for governor, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of grand larceny, money laundering, and falsifying business records. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday.

Haggerty’s company, Special Elections Operations, formed shortly after the election last year, was also indicted.

Haggerty has previously declined to comment; his attorney could not immediately be reached. Bloomberg said the district attorney asked him not to discuss the case and declined to comment.

Haggerty worked on Bloomberg’s election campaign in 2005 and for former governor George Pataki as well as former Westchester district attorney Jeanine Pirro.

The money — two wire transfers for $600,000 each — came from Bloomberg’s personal fortune, not campaign contributions, and went to the Independence Party, the state’s third-largest political party. Vance said the bulk of the money was then transferred either to Haggerty himself or his corporation, which was a sham.

Haggerty used none of the money for the polling operation, the district attorney said. The house he bought was his late father’s home in Forest Hills, an upscale section of New York City’s Queens borough.

He also spent money on JetBlue tickets and lawyer’s fees, prosecutors said.

Some of the money is still with the party. Prosecutors have asked for it to be returned.

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