Hiram Monserrate

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Hiram Monserrate
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 13th district
In office
January 1, 2009 – February 9, 2010
Preceded byJohn Sabini
Succeeded byJose Peralta
Member of the New York City Council
from the 21st district
In office
January 2002 – December 2008
Preceded byHelen Marshall
Succeeded byJulissa Ferreras
ConstituencyQueens: Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights
Personal details
Born (1967-07-12) July 12, 1967 (age 56)
New York
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceJackson Heights, New York[1]
Alma materQueens College, City University of New York
WebsiteCampaign website

Hiram Monserrate, born on July 12, 1967, is an American politician who served in the New York State Senate from 2009 until his expulsion in 2010. A Democrat, he previously served on the New York City Council from 2002 through 2008.

Political career (2002–present)[edit]

New York City Council[edit]

Monserrate served on the New York City Council from 2002 to 2008,[2] representing District 21 in Queens.[3]

In June 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an executive order allowing city employees to report illegal immigrants to federal authorities.[4] Monserrate, then chairing the Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, argued that this order would worsen relations between immigrant communities and the police. He responded by sponsoring a bill entitled "Access Without Fear", which would have forbidden city officials from revealing such information except as required by law.[4] He joined director Stephen Frears in publicizing the immigration film Dirty Pretty Things to raise awareness of the issue.[4]

In late 2008, Monserrate opposed Mayor Bloomberg's planned use of eminent domain in the $4 billion Willets Point Redevelopment project in Queens.[5] The long-term project aimed to clear the 62-acre (250,000 m2) industrial area, clear up pollution, and develop a hotel and convention center.[6] However, it was initially opposed by a majority of the existing business owners. Monserrate changed his mind and supported the development after being assured that one-third of the housing would be "affordable" and that the city would offer businesses an opportunity to relocate.[6] He told reporters the compromise showed that government "can be fair and still do good economic development".[6]

Scientology controversy[edit]

Monserrate supported the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project,[7] a project co-founded by Tom Cruise to deliver the so-called Purification Rundown (an unproven "detoxification" procedure created by L. Ron Hubbard as part of Scientology) to rescue workers affected by the September 11 attacks.[8] Monserrate went through the program himself, and drafted official proclamations honoring both Cruise and Hubbard.[8][9][10][11] He also attended a fund-raising dinner in New York for the project,[12][13] as well as an event at the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles.[14] Monserrate dismissed medical authorities' criticism of the Purification Rundown, saying, "This is the same type of thing they said about chiropractors twenty years ago."[15]

New York State Senate[edit]

In 2006, Monserrate ran for New York State Senate against fellow Democrat John Sabini, a 16-year incumbent. Monserrate came within 200 votes of pulling off an upset in one of the closest races in Queens.

In 2008, he again ran for the State Senate with the support of organized labor. Sabini withdrew from the race following his appointment to chair the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Monserrate then ran unopposed and on November 4, 2008, was elected the New York State Senator for the 13th district.[16]

On June 8, 2009, Monserrate and Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) joined Senate Republicans in an attempted parliamentary coup for the purpose of shifting control of the Senate to the Republicans;[17] Monserrate, Espada, and all 30 Senate Republicans voted, 32-30, to replace Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith with then-Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and install Espada as Temporary President of the Senate.[18] This action resulted in the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis. A week later, Senate Democrats appointed Senator John Sampson as their leader.[19] On the same day, Monserrate rejoined the Democratic caucus, leaving the Senate in a 31-31 deadlock.[20][21] With the office of Lieutenant Governor vacant due to Eliot Spitzer's resignation, the tie could not be resolved, and the resulting legislative deadlock continued until July 9, when Espada rejoined the Democrats.[22]

On December 2, 2009, Monserrate voted against legislation allowing same-sex marriage, which failed to pass the Senate.[23]

Expulsion from the New York State Senate[edit]

A bipartisan nine-member committee recommended disciplinary action against Monserrate following his 2009 misdemeanor assault conviction. If Monserrate had been convicted of the felony charges against him, he would have been automatically expelled from the Senate.[24][25][26] Politicians of both parties at the national, state, and local level called for him to resign or be expelled from the State Senate.[27][28] The committee's report was released on January 14, 2010 and recommended that the full Senate expel or censure Monserrate.[29][30]

On February 9, 2010, the State Senate voted to expel Monserrate. The vote was 53 to 8, with one senator not present.[31][32] In response, Monserrate sued the State Senate in federal court.[33][34] Monserrate lost his case on the District Court level[35] and in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.[36][37]

Post-Senate political career[edit]

2010 State Senate special election[edit]

The Queens Democratic Party withdrew its support for Monserrate's 2010 re-election bid on October 29, 2009. The party leadership supported Assemblyman Jose Peralta for the State Senate.[38] Following Monserrate's expulsion from the Senate, Governor David Paterson called for a special election in the 13th Senate District to be held on March 16, 2010.[39] Peralta won the special election, outpolling Monserrate 65 percent to 27 percent.[40]

2010 State Assembly election[edit]

Monserrate filed petitions with the Board of Elections to be entered in the Democratic primary to fill the 39th Assembly District seat (Jackson Heights-Corona) vacated by Jose Peralta following his election to the State Senate.[41][42] The Queens County Democratic Party endorsed community activist Francisco Moya for the seat.[43] On September 14, 2010, Moya defeated Monserrate in the Democratic primary, 2,711 votes to 1,358 votes.[44][45]

2016 Democratic District Leader election[edit]

In June 2016, following his release from federal prison,[46] Monserrate attempted his third political comeback by seeking the unpaid elected position of Democratic District Leader for the 35th District in Corona and East Elmhurst.[47] Monserrate ran against Democratic incumbent and community volunteer George R. Dixon. Despite having struggled to meet court-ordered financial obligations, Monserrate opened a campaign office and hired paid staffers.[48] On September 13, 2016, Monserrate lost his bid for district leader by 57 votes.[49]

2017 New York City Council election[edit]

In 2017, Monserrate ran for New York City Council in District 21. He was defeated by Francisco Moya in the Democratic primary, 55%-44%.[50]

2018 Democratic District Leader election[edit]

In 2018, Monserrate again sought a district leader post in Queens.[51] On September 13, 2018, he prevailed.[52]

2020 New York State Assembly candidacy[edit]

In November 2019, Monserrate filed to run for New York State Assembly in District 35 in 2020 against incumbent Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry.[53][54] Monserrate lost to Aubry in the Democratic primary, 65-35%.[55]

2021 New York City Council election[edit]

In February 2021, the New York City Council passed a local law by a 44-1 vote, barring former lawmakers from running for municipal office if they have been convicted of corruption. The law was reportedly targeted at Monserrate,[56] who had announced his intent to again run against Moya and other candidates in the Democratic primary for his former seat on the New York City Council and was collecting campaign donations. Monserrate filed his nominating petition signatures the following month, but was blocked from receiving matching campaign funds by the city's Campaign Finance Board and from appearing on the ballot by the New York City Board of Elections. Monserrate filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the law did not bar him from receiving matching donations and contending that keeping him off the ballot was unconstitutional.[57]

2022 New York State Assembly candidacy

Monserrate again filed to run for New York State Assembly in District 35 against incumbent Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry. Monserrate lost to Aubry in the Democratic primary, 61-38%.[58]

Legal problems[edit]

2008 assault charges[edit]

Arrest and investigation[edit]

Monserrate was arrested on December 19, 2008 and accused of slashing Karla Giraldo, his girlfriend, in the face with a broken drinking glass during an argument in his Jackson Heights apartment.[59] He was arraigned the same day and pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree assault, a felony that carried a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Giraldo initially made statements to hospital staff and the police that led to Monserrate's arrest. However, Giraldo later changed her account to match that of Monserrate, stated that the cuts on her face near her left eye from a broken glass were an accident, and added that she was no longer cooperating with the investigation.[60] Sources discussed evidence with the media, including video surveillance that supported the charges of assault and the attempt to cover it up.[61][62][63]


On March 23, 2009, a Queens grand jury indicted Monserrate on three counts of felony assault on Giraldo and three counts of misdemeanor assault.[64] Monserrate denied the charges, saying "Listen, the reality is that from the very beginning I have said this was an accident. My girlfriend said it's an accident. This is an accident and we look forward to the dismissal of all these charges based on the truth."[65]

The case proceeded to trial, and Monserrate waived his right to a jury on September 18, 2009.[66] As his trial started, security camera footage from Monserrate's apartment building was entered into evidence and made public. The footage showed Giraldo girlfriend screaming and clutching at doorways as Monserrate forced her out of the building.[67][68][69] Giraldo testified in Monserrate's defense.[70]

Conviction and sentencing[edit]

On October 15, 2009, Monserrate was acquitted of the second-degree assault felony counts, but convicted on a third-degree assault misdemeanor count which carried a maximum sentence of one year in prison.[70] On December 4, 2009, Monserrate was sentenced to three years' probation, 250 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine, and one year of domestic abuse counseling. He sought to vacate an order of protection preventing him from contact with Giraldo, but it was not vacated.[71][72]

In an appearance before the sentencing judge, William Erlbaum, on July 7, 2010, Monserrate again petitioned to have a court order prohibiting him from contact with Giraldo vacated. The petition was granted, and according to the New York Post, Monserrate and Giraldo kissed and held hands.[73] The pair later ended their relationship.[74]

Indictment by United States in federal court case against Monserrate

2010 federal corruption charges[edit]

In October 2010, Monserrate was indicted on federal corruption charges which alleged that, as a sitting member of the City Council, he had used staff members of a nonprofit organization—the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment—to perform tasks related to his unsuccessful 2006 State Senate campaign. In 2006 and 2007, then-Councilmember Monserrate allocated $300,000 in discretionary city funding to LIBRE, and the indictment charged that approximately one-third of that funding went toward paying LIBRE staff for their campaign-related work.[75] After the court proceeding, he was freed after posting a $500,000 bond, secured by a home belonging to his parents.[76] Millions of dollars in so-called discretionary member items had been allocated by members of the City Council to non-profit groups with ties to the members. The investigation of Monserrate was part of a broad federal investigation to determine if these funds had been used for the members' personal or political expenses.[76]

Monserrate was assigned a court-appointed attorney.[77] In May 2012, Monserrate pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and mail fraud conspiracy. In December 2012, he was sentenced to serve two years in prison.[78]

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Probation informed Monserrate's judge that he had failed to make timely restitution payments.[79]

Monserrate served 21 months in federal prison.[80]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pearson, Erica; Gendar, Alison (January 7, 2009). "Sources say video shows Sen. Hiram Monserrate dragging lover, who looks 'scared out of her mind'". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 28, 2009.
  2. ^ Gay, Mara (August 29, 2017). "Queens Council Race Sparks Tensions". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Gartland, Michael; Campanile, Carl (July 18, 2017). "Dems say ex-con Monserrate has real shot to win old Council seat". New York Post. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Gonzalez, Juan (July 15, 2003). "Closeup on Immigrant Horrors". New York Daily News. Daily News. p. 10.
  5. ^ Santos, Fernanda (August 13, 2008). "A Confrontation Over the Future of Willets Point". New York Times.
  6. ^ a b c Associated Press reporters (November 13, 2008). "Controversial Queens development headed for vote". AFX Asia Focus. AFX News.
  7. ^ Jose, Katharine (April 22, 2008). "Mad-Dog Councilman Champions No Man's Land". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on June 4, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  8. ^ a b DeSio, John (May 31, 2007). "The Rundown on Scientology's Purification Rundown: What Scientologists aren't telling you about their detox program (and how much it's costing you)". New York Press. Archived from the original on June 1, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  9. ^ Seifman, David (April 7, 2007). "'Cruise Control' Pol: It Helped Me". New York Post. Archived from the original on March 28, 2009. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
  10. ^ Friedman, Roger (April 19, 2007). "FDNY Hierarchy Furious With Tom Cruise Over Scientology Detox for 9/11 Workers". Fox News. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2009.
  11. ^ Seifman, David (April 20, 2007). "Crui$e is 'Detox' of De Town". New York Post. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  12. ^ "Cruise Wins Support of NY Emergency Workers With Fundraiser". SFGate.com. San Francisco Chronicle. April 20, 2007. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  13. ^ Seifman, David (April 21, 2007). "Local Pols Cruised in Free to Tom Gala". New York Post. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  14. ^ Seifman, David (August 8, 2007). "Councilman Parties With H'wood Scientology Set". New York Post. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  15. ^ "Monserrate Defends Detox Program". The New York Observer. April 21, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  16. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (August 8, 2008). "And Goodbye John Sabini". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  17. ^ Gormley, Michael (June 8, 2009). "GOP, 2 Dems flip power balance in NY Senate". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 8, 2009.[dead link]
  18. ^ Odato, James (June 8, 2009). "Two Democrats join Republicans to topple Smith as Senate leader". Albany Times Union. Archived from the original on June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  19. ^ Madore, James T.; Epstein, Reid J. (June 15, 2009). "Senate Democrats name Sampson leader, dumping Smith". Newsday. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  20. ^ "Mayoral control of schools in New York: Political prisoners". The Economist. June 20, 2009. p. 70.
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  22. ^ Lovett, Kenneth; Benjamin, Elizabeth; Blain, Glenn (July 9, 2009). "End in sight for Senate deadlock? Rogue Democrat Pedro Espada returning to Dems". Daily News. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  23. ^ Katz, Celeste (December 2, 2009). "Gay Marriage Fails, 24-38". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011.
  24. ^ Rivera, Ray (December 20, 2008). "State Senator-Elect Accused of Slashing Companion's Face". New York Times.
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  26. ^ "The People of the State of New York v. Hiram Monserrate (indictment text)". March 23, 2009.
  27. ^ "Panel to weigh fate of senator". Albany Times Union. October 20, 2009.
  28. ^ Peters, Jeremy W.; Confessore, Nicholas (October 20, 2009). "Lawmakers Weigh Expelling a Senator". New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  29. ^ "Panel Recommends Expulsion or Censure for Monserrate". WNYC. January 14, 2010.
  30. ^ "New York State Senate Investigative Report on Monserrate". January 16, 2010.
  31. ^ Matthews, Cara (February 9, 2010). "Senate votes to expel Sen. Hiram Monserrate". The Journal News.
  32. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (February 9, 2010). "Monserrate out in Senate vote". The Times Union.
  33. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (February 10, 2010). "Lawmakers Expel N.Y. State Senator Over Assault". New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  34. ^ Blain, Glenn (February 9, 2010). "State Senate votes to boot Sen. Hiram Monserrate, citing his misdemeanor assault conviction". New York Daily News.
  35. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (February 19, 2010). "Judge Declines to Reverse Monserrate's Expulsion From the State Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  36. ^ Chang, Ailsa (March 12, 2010). "Monserrate's Request to Reverse Expulsion is Rejected". WNYC. www.wnyc.org. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  37. ^ "Monserrate, et al v. New York State Senate et al". March 13, 2010.(text of decision denying the appeal)
  38. ^ "Queens Dems to dump Monserrate, endorse challenger". Newsday. October 29, 2009.
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  40. ^ Trapasso, Clare; Feeney, Michael J.; Standora, Leo (March 16, 2010). "Ousted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate loses bid to regain seat as Assemblyman Jose Peralta triumphs". New York: Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 5, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  41. ^ "West Queens races heat up". News Community Holdings. July 21, 2010.
  42. ^ "Nominating petitions usher in political season". Queens Gazette. July 20, 2010.
  43. ^ Davis, Pete (May 25, 2010). "County Dems pick some surprise candidates". The Queens Courier. Schneps Publications. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  44. ^ "Paladino Wins Gubernatorial Primary As Monserrate, Espada Concede". NY1. September 14, 2010. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
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  51. ^ Campanile, Carl (August 27, 2018). "Disgraced former senator running for office again". New York Post. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  52. ^ Campanile, Carl; Marino, Joe; Fredericks, Bob (September 14, 2018). "New York Democrats pick some scandalous candidates". New York Post. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  53. ^ Durkin, Erin. "De Blasio dismisses Assembly run by 'vampire' Hiram Monserrate". Politico Pro.
  54. ^ Marsh, Julia; Hogan, Bernadette; Campanile, Carl (November 21, 2019). "De Blasio slams 'vampire' Hiram Monserrate for seeking comeback".
  55. ^ "Live: New York State Primary Election Results 2020". The New York Times. June 23, 2020 – via NYTimes.com.
  56. ^ Brand, David (February 26, 2021). "New NYC law will prevent Hiram Monserrate from running for Queens council seat". Queens Daily Eagle. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  57. ^ Brand, David (April 15, 2021). "Monserrate allies sue NYC after ex-councilmember denied matching funds". Queens Daily Eagle. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
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  59. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (December 19, 2008). "Monserrate Arrested". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on January 31, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  60. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (December 23, 2008). "Hiram Monserrate's girlfriend pushes prosecutors to drop assault charges". New York Daily News.
  61. ^ Weiss, Murray (December 24, 2008). "'Ex' Factor Enraged Hiram: Cops". New York Post.
  62. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (December 19, 2008). "Going the Distance". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009.
  63. ^ Stirling, Steven (December 23, 2008). "Tape shows Monserrate pulling girlfriend's hair: Sources". News Community Newspapers.
  64. ^ "State Senator Indicted on Domestic Assault Charges" (PDF). Queens County, Office of District Attorney. March 23, 2009.
  65. ^ "Monserrate Is Indicted On Assault Charges". NY1 News. March 23, 2009. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
  66. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (September 14, 2009). "Monserrate Waives Right to Jury Trial in Assault Case". New York Times.
  67. ^ "Judge releases Monserrate security video". WNBC. September 22, 2009.
  68. ^ "Surveillance tape played in NY pol's assault trial". Associated Press. September 22, 2009. Surveillance video played at the domestic assault trial of a New York state senator shows his girlfriend screaming and clutching at doorways as he forces her outside. The tape was played Tuesday for Judge William Erlbaum of State Supreme Court in Queens. It shows Hiram Monserrate forcibly leading Karla Giraldo out the door on their way to a hospital as she resists.
  69. ^ William J. Gorta and Andy Geller, "Hiram & the draggin' lady: Trial video shows senator pulling bloody, screaming gal," New York Post, September 23, 2009, found at New York Post website. Accessed September 23, 2009.
  70. ^ a b Minton, Tim; Clancy, Michael (October 15, 2009). "Monserrate Walks on Felonies; Guilty of Misdemeanor Assault". NBC New York. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
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  72. ^ Katz, Celeste (December 4, 2009). "No jail time for Monserrate". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on December 7, 2009.
  73. ^ "Hiram gets cut a break. Judge reunites ex-pol with love". New York Post. July 10, 2010.
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  75. ^ Rashbaum, William K.; Santos, Fernanda (October 19, 2010). "Monserrate Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  76. ^ a b Santos, Fernanda; William K. Rashbaum (October 19, 2010). "Monserrate Is Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges". New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  77. ^ Golding, Bruce (January 29, 2011). "Deadbeat ex-pol Monserrate can't pay high-powered lawyer with public funds: Judge". New York Post. When asked what he was doing to find work, Monserrate -- who never took off his tightly buttoned, black wool coat -- only raised his eyebrows and shrugged. In recent court papers, Monserrate claimed he had $128,000 in debts and only $100 to his name.
  78. ^ Moynihan, Colin (December 11, 2012). "Hiram Monserrate Gets 2 Years in Prison for Misuse of Funds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  79. ^ "Ex-senator Monserrate struggling to pay restitution". New York Daily News. June 10, 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  80. ^ Gartland, Michael; Campanile, Carl (July 18, 2017). "Dems say ex-con Monserrate has real shot to win old Council seat". New York Post. Retrieved September 18, 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by New York City Council, 21st district
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection
Succeeded by
New York State Senate
Preceded by New York State Senate, 13th district
Succeeded by