Tuesday, July 14, 2009

City Councilman Miguel Martinez resigns amid Dept. of Investigation probe into slush fund scandal

Updated Tuesday, July 14th 2009, 11:47 AM

Noonan for News

New York City Councilman Miguel Martinez

City Councilman Miguel Martinez resigned Monday as prosecutors revealed he's agreed to plead to federal charges after an extensive probe of a nonprofit group to which he steered more than $500,000.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney's filed notice a criminal information will accuse Martinez of a crime as early as Tuesday. It would be the first criminal charges against a Council member in the city slush fund scandal.

The notice doesn't disclose the charges, but indicates Martinez has agreed to plead guilty to the unspecified accusations.

Martinez, a Manhattan Democrat, has represented the 10th Council District since Jan. 1, 2002, which includes parts of Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill.

A Martinez ally and other sources said the charges involve the nonprofit group Upper Manhattan Council Assisting Neighbors (U-CAN), which received city member-item funding through Martinez.

Martinez' sister was once a U-CAN board member. In March, the city's Department of Investigation seized records from U-CAN's offices, as part of a broader investigation into possible abuses of City Council member item funding.

Two weeks later, City Council officials yanked $528,000 in funding to U-CAN earmarked for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Martinez had repeatedly denied knowing of misuse of funding by U-CAN.

He had been in the process of seeking reelection to another four-year term, made possible by the Council's decision late last year to extend term limits.

The vacancy will be filled in this year's September primary and November general elections.

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