The political consultant who was convicted of stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Bloomberg's mayoral campaign was sentenced to one to four years in prison today. While probation was an option for John Haggerty, Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel said he opted to send Haggerty to prison "in order to restore the public confidence in the electoral process and to serve as a deterent.”
Haggerty, a Queens GOP operative, was found guilty of taking money meant for ballot security during the 2009 election and using it to buy a house. His defense strategy was to point out that Bloomberg was a very wealthy man and his re-election team didn't really care how the money, which was given to Haggerty acting for the Independence party, was spent as long as Bloomberg would win. But Haggerty only spent $32,000 of the money on actual security and took the rest.
During the sentencing hearing, Haggerty's lawyer Dennis Vacco hammered home Bloomberg's riches, "When you're spending $110 million to win a third term ... it causes others to start thinking outside the box. It breeds and environment where people start losing judgement." He added that Haggerty used the money to buy back his childhood home: "The house was all about his desperate attempt to hold on to a family life that had long passed him by... I don’t want to say it was a crime of passion, but it was a crime of emotion." Haggerty himself said, "Today my reputation is destroyed. If I could do it all over again I would certainly do it much differently than I did. I recognize that I cannot change the past."
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Zweibel ordered that Haggerty pay $750,000 in restitution,