Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate surrendered to federal authorities yesterday after being indicted for swindling the city out of more than $109,000 in public funds that he used to fuel his election campaigns.

Baruch College political expert David Birdsell was not surprised. “This is far from unprecedented citywide or statewide,” he said.

While serving as a city councilmember, Monserrate helped direct $300,000 to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment Inc. — a nonprofit he founded with the stated mission of improving the Queens district he represented. He spent much of the money instead on partisan canvassing and petition drives, and pay for LIBRE employees working on his unsuccessful 2006 primary campaign for a local state Senate seat, federal prosecutors in Manhattan allege.

“LIBRE served as an alter ego for his political gain,” U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara said.
LIBRE’s former Executive Director Javier Cardenas pleaded guilty to mail fraud earlier this week and has been cooperating with officials.

Nongovernmental organizations receiving tax dollars may not engage in partisan politics.

Monserrate’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, told The New York Times his client will fight the charges “vigorously.”

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