Former state Senator Marc Panepnito will spend two months in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempting to covering up unwanted sexual advances he made toward a former staffer.
He was facing up a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in prison, although the prosecution had recommended six months in jail when he agreed to a plea deal in June. Panepinto pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of making a promise of employment, compensation or other benefit for political activity.
In court, Panepinto's attorney said his client knew he had broken the law and needed to be held accountable.
As the sentence was announced, Judge Michael Roemer said he knew the case had had an impact on Panepinto's daughters, but noted that "every woman is someone's daughter."
Panepinto announced in late 2016 that he wouldn’t seek re-election, citing the health of his since-deceased law partner, but it was later revealed that he was accused of making several unwanted sexual advances toward a female staffer.
The incident took place in New York City hotel room following a fundraiser for his campaign. He admitted to putting his head in the woman’s lap, pulling her feet toward his face and saying they smelled “sexy.”
After the woman rejected his advances, he left the room, only to return later.
Following an investigation of the then Joint Commission of Public Ethics, it was discovered that Panepinto directed a senior staffer to meet with the woman to try and offer her money to stay silent.
The former staffer was not in court Friday. She has moved out of state and left politics altogether.
"The defendant essentially sought to purchase this young woman's silence," U.S. Attorney James Kennedy said. "In so doing, he placed his own interests above those of his staff and his constituents; he sought to use his position to benefit himself above all others. His abuse of power cost him his office and bought him a federal criminal conviction."