Bloomberg operative found guilty of taking Bloomberg’s money, lawyer says ‘We will appeal’

Dennis Vacco, post-verdict. (Azi Paybarah)
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Republican political operative John Haggerty was found guilty today of stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election campaign and could face up to 15 years in prison.

"Well, obviously, we're disappointed with the verdict, although we're pleased they acquitted him on the top count" which "would have required mandatory incarceration," said defense attorney Dennis Vacco. "We will appeal."

Haggerty was not convicted of grand larceny in the first degree, but was found guilty of a lesser grand larceny charge and a money laundering charge.

The case will resume at 2 p.m. when bail for the Queens-born operative will be discussed. Haggerty's lawyer said that he is not a flight risk, volunteering that he does not have a passport for his parents' native country of Ireland, and that even if he did, it wouldn't matter, since Ireland has an extradition agreement with the United States.

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Haggerty's lawyers had argued that once Bloomberg donated the money to the Independence Party (which then passed it on to Haggerty, ostensibly for "ballot security" operations), he had no control over what they did with it. Therefore, they argued, the mayor could not have been a victim of theft.

One of the jurors, Stephen Conroy, told reporters he voted to convict Haggerty because he felt the Independence Party was an "agent" of the mayor's.

"That's startling to me," said Vacco, outside the Manhattan criminal court room this afternoon, when told of the juror's remarks by reporters. "That's startling to me because there is nothing in the record which would indicate the Independence Party was an agent."

Vacco, surrounded by reporters, said, "Indeed, if the Independence Party was an agent of Michael Bloomberg, that contribution was illegal."

When asked if the juror's comments would be part of the case for appeal, Vacco would only say, "We'll see. We'll see."

But he did try underscoring their significance.

"It's startling to me," said Vacco, "that after four weeks of testimony, after five hours of summations, that anybody would walk away with the impression that the Independence Party was Michael Bloomberg's agent. Quite frankly, that is a frightening concept."