Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Senate Report Rebukes Monserrate, No Sanctions...Yet


By Elizabeth Benjamin

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A harshly-worded report by a special Senate committee all but accuses Sen. Hiram Monserrate of lying about the "accident" that left his girlfriend with a laceration on her face and rebukes him for failing to take full responsibility for the incident, according to a source familiar with the document.

The 55-page draft report rehashes the events of Dec. 19 that led to Monserrate's arrest and eventual conviction on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting Karla Giraldo.

It does not make any recommendations about whether the Queens Democrat should be further punished - either by censure or expulsion from the chamber - by his colleagues.

Members of the Senate committee created this fall to review Monserrate's case reviewed the report behind closed doors for three hours today. They will suggest changes and come to a determination about Monserrate's fate in the coming weeks.

The committee subpoenaed all the testimony and documents related to the grand jury that handed up felony assault charges against Monserrate, but was only granted access to some of what it sought - including Giraldo's testimony.

Neither Monserrate nor Giraldo agreed to cooperating with the committee, despite a pledge by the senator and his attorney to do so.

After reviewing Giraldo's testimony, the committee found many holes in her story and ultimately rejected her version of what happened on Dec. 19 as "inconsistent and unreliable," the source said.

The committee blasted Monserrate for failing to accept responsibility for his actions in numerous interviews that followed his conviction. It took particular issue with the fact that he has refused to call what happened between himself and Giraldo domestic violence.

The committee itself has no power to do anything to Monserrate. It can merely recommend actions to be voted on by the full Senate. A source knowledgeable about the committee's proceedings said its members are "moving toward broad consensus" about calling for action to be taken against the senator.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who chaired the Monserrate committee, said the members are "moving ahead" and "close to wrapping up." He refused to reveal whether the committee would recommend ousting Monserrate, saying only: "That won't be discussed until we finalize the report."

Scheiderman said he hopes the report will be finalized "in the next week or so." Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said yesterday the committee won't likely complete its work before this year draws to a close at the end of the week.

- The DN's Kate Lucadamo contributed to this report.

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