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Ex-NY state senator admits stealing from nonprofit

New York State Senate

NEW YORK (AP) — A former state senator pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges she embezzled nearly $88,000 from a taxpayer-subsidized program that helps low-income families navigate the city's public school system.

Shirley Huntley admitted to fraud allegations that she wrote $24,500 in checks from the nonprofit's account to family members who returned the funds to her in cash, prosecutors said. She also used some of the embezzled funds to pay personal credit card bills.

The scheme unfolded mostly during her tenure in the Senate, which began in 2007 and ended with a losing re-election bid last year.

The Queens Democrat "used her knowledge of the system to steal funds intended to help some of her neediest constituents, lining her own pockets at the expense of parents, and ultimately their children," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

Huntley, 74, left court without speaking to reporters. Prosecutors say she faces up to five years at sentencing; no date was set.

Last year, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged Huntley in a separate case with conspiring in a scheme to use state grants to benefit associates in another nonprofit group she founded.

Huntley called the pending state charges a politically motivated, trumped-up effort to disrupt her Democratic primary that was then less than three weeks away.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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