John A. Zaccaro, husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine A. Ferraro, was ordered today to perform 150 hours of community service for his role in an illegal scheme to buy five apartment houses.
Zaccaro's chief lawyer said his client was prosecuted because of who he was, not what he did.
Zaccaro, 51, pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to a misdemeanor fraud charge involving inflating his own assets and the value of several buildings while negotiating a real estate deal for a client.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice George Roberts specified that the first 50 hours of Zaccaro's sentence be served within a year at the Andrew Glover Youth Program--a halfway house on Manhattan's tough Lower East Side.
Roberts told Zaccaro, a real estate broker, to use his real estate background to help those who run the shelter, which helps youths with criminal records go straight.
The judge said the remaining 100 hours of Zaccaro's sentence would be served at agencies that help thce elderly and the poor.
Zaccaro, wearing a dark blue pin-striped suit, stood with his four lawyers as Roberts handed down the sentence.
Zaccaro was charged in connection with a 1983 transaction in which he tried to help a real estate client buy five apartment buildings in Forest Hills, Queens, near where the Zaccaro family lives.
Zaccaro was charged with falsely inflating the value of the buildings and his own personal assets in order to obtain a loan to negotiate the multimillion-dollar deal. The deal was never consummated.
If the purchase had gone through, Zaccaro would have made a profit of $330,000 in real estate commissions and acquired an interest in the buildings.
Zaccaro's lawyer said when Zaccaro pleaded guilty that he could have fought the indictment but decided to enter the guilty plea lest his family be subjected to more anguish. The Zaccaro family's tangled financial affairs made national headlines during the presidential campaign last fall when Ferraro ran with Walter F. Mondale on the Democratic ticket.
Justice Roberts asked Zaccaro if he had anything to say.
"I will serve whatever your decision is, your honor," Zaccaro said in a barely audible voice. "I know it will be fair. I have learned my lesson, judge, the hard way."
"It is highly unlikely that this would happen again," Roberts said. "But by your own admission, the conditions with which you are charged did occur."