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Disgraced ex-pol Monserrate can’t pay his lawyer

Former State Senator Hiram Monserrate is having trouble paying his high-powered defense attorney Joseph Tacopina.
“Despite his best efforts, he has not been able to do so,” said Chad Seigel, Tacopina’s law firm partner.
The disgraced Queens politician hasn’t paid Tacopina, who is defending him against charges he misused $109,000 from the taxpayer-funded charity Latino Initiative for Better Resources & Empowerment (LIBRE). Monserrate, 43, was indicted on Tuesday, October 19 on federal charges that he used the non-profit organization as a source to finance his campaigns for both the City Council and the State Senate.
Now, his lawyer Tacopina asked a federal court judge to be removed from the case or name him Monserrate’s court-appointed lawyer. In court papers filed on Friday, January 7, Tacopina made the request under the terms of the federal Criminal Justice Act, which authorizes payments of $125 an hour or up to a $9,700 maximum for felony cases. A bargain since Tacopina’s usual rate is $750 an hour.
“Court appointed rates are something we don’t do, never done, but we are willing to do to keep continuity of council,” said Seigel from the Law Offices of Tacopina Seigel & Turano, P.C., the firm representing Monserrate.
Monserrate also filed court papers the same day saying he’s unemployed. Monserrate¸ a former NYPD police officer, said he is $128,000 in debt. And even though he has received $26,000 from his city pension, he is still struggling.
“Hiram is going through a bad situation economically,” said Monserrate’s friend Miguel López Rodríguez, president of COPOLA USA, a Latin American political club in Queens. “I am surprised myself that he lost all of his resources despite receiving a pension, which is not enough.”
Monserrate is also trying to sell his $130,000 co-op apartment, but has not been successful.
“I myself am selling his apartment and I have not gotten a client,” Rodríguez said. “If it would sell he would be alleviated, but sales of cooperatives are very difficult.”
Monserrate was kicked out of the Senate in February of last year after being convicted of a misdemeanor in the assault of his girlfriend. He tried to regain his Senate seat during a special election in March of last year, but lost to Jose Peralta. In September, he lost the democratic primary race against Francisco Moya for the Assembly District 39 seat.

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