Thursday, August 30, 2012


Disgraced pol Vito Lopez's former chief-of-staff ID'd as sex-harass settler

Last Updated: 10:52 AM, August 30, 2012
Posted: 1:44 AM, August 30, 2012

Disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s alleged sexual-harassment victims include his former chief-of-staff, who was paid at least part of a secret $103,000 settlement, The Post has learned.
Leah Hebert, 29, worked for more than a year in Lopez’s Brooklyn office until she was terminated June 7 — the same day that an invoice for that settlement was submitted to the Assembly, records show.
The taxpayer-funded money was paid out six days later to a Manhattan law firm connected to LA sexual-harassment attorney Gloria Allred.
The settlement was covered by a confidentiality agreement authorized by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has since apologized for the veil of secrecy and is now a target of a state ethics probe.
ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS: Leah Hebert accompanies her boss, Vito Lopez (left), for whom she was chief-of-staff until she departed in June, on a visit to see City Councilman Erik Dilan.
ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS: Leah Hebert accompanies her boss, Vito Lopez (left), for whom she was chief-of-staff until she departed in June, on a visit to see City Councilman Erik Dilan.
Gregory P. Mango
NEW LIFE: Leah Hebert, near her Brooklyn home yesterday, g ot at least part of the tax-funded $103,080 settlement.
A political source told The Post Hebert received at least a share of that payout.
Hebert refused to comment yesterday as she walked into a Brooklyn apartment building where she bought a co-op in May.
A friend earlier in the day declared, “She’s a victim here!”
Hebert was first hired by Lopez as a legislative assistant in March 2011 at a salary of nearly $45,000 a year.
She was promoted to chief-of-staff just five months later — at a salary of $75,000, records show. Her salary was slashed, for unknown reasons to $49,842 in January.
Two months later, Hebert was transferred out of Lopez’s office to an undisclosed assignment in the Assembly — although her termination wasn’t complete until June 7.
Records show that on top of her salary, Hebert was paid four times by the Lopez campaign in 2011 for “reimbursements” totaling $4,774.41.
In addition to the $103,080 paid by the Assembly to two women, Lopez also doled out $32,000, according to The New York Times. It was not clear if the money came from his personal or campaign accounts.
The scandal is a black eye for Silver, one of the state’s most powerful Democrats.
Publicly, he welcomed an investigation yesterday by the Gov. Cuomo-created Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) — although privately, sources said he and his staff are “panicking” about the probe.
Silver defiantly stated the inquiry would “allow all the facts to come out.”
He also said the Assembly was “asking for a release from any confidentiality clauses that may exist” so it could disclose details about sex-harassment allegations against Lopez separately from the JCOPE probe. But behind closed doors Silver and his aides “are under fire,” a source said.
“They can get hit in a lot of ways on this,” the source said, noting that Silver is also concerned about attacks from women’s groups angry about the settlement.
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