Monserrate Quietly Starts Prison Term

Hiram Monserrate (center) leaves Manhattan Federal Court after his sentencing in December. (Photo by Humberto Arellano via El Diario-La Prensa)

Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate is already in federal jail in Canaan, Penn., to serve his 2-year sentence.

In 2012, Monserrate, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud by embezzling funds from the nonprofit LIBRE in order to finance his campaign for the senate. He must now pay back the $79,000 that he wrongly appropriated.

[Monserrate was supposed to start his sentence two months ago but was given a reprieve to take care of a dental problem.]

A friend who accompanied Monserrate on Saturday, May 11, and asked not to be identified, said that hearing the sentence was hard, as much for Monserrate as for his relatives.

“With God’s support, I hope they don’t send me to jail,” said activist Altagracia Mayí, referring to the conversation she had with Monserrate the last time they saw each other.

Mayí, who has been seeking justice for her son’s murder for years, always received help from Monserrate. She is currently recovering from an operation and did not accompany Monserrate, but she wrote a letter of support to federal judge Colleen McMahon.

Mayí lamented what happened, but defended Monserrate: “He did what he did, but he fights for his people. They can’t take that away from him. He’s a man who’s not afraid, and when he has to help someone, he helps, unlike many politicians who don’t want to show their face when there’s a problem. We’ve mourned a lot here because we lost him.”

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