This made my day. For too many years, Joe Bruno and Sheldon Silver have hamstrung New York State, playing dirty politics, and using the government for their own petty gains. We’re all paying the price for this now, and finally, after too many years, Mr. Bruno (at least) is getting his due.
Friday, January 23, 2009, 1:50pm EST | Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009, 2:49pm
Ex-NY Senate leader Bruno indicted
Business First of Buffalo – The Albany Business Review
Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno was charged with defrauding “the state of New York and its citizens,” in an eight-count indictment released today.
The indictment charges Bruno with mail and wire fraud.
Bruno, in a news conference, called the investigation into his dealings a “fishing expedition.”
“For over three years, I’ve been the target of a ‘get Joe Bruno campaign,'” Bruno said in a news conference today.
Bruno, who retired from the Senate last year after 32 years, was accused in the 35-page indictment of entering relationships with people or companies that had business before the state Legislature and then “concealing, disguising,and failing to disclose the existence and nature of such compensated contacts,” the indictment said.
The indictment alleges Bruno, a Republican, engaged in a “scheme to defraud” by getting paid $3.19 million for work he did on behalf of labor unions and private companies that did business with the state without disclosing that relationship to the Legislative Ethics Committee.
“The state of New York and its citizens paid defendant Joseph L. Bruno a salary for his honest services, but, as a result of the scheme and artifice to defraud, to their detriment, were deprived of such honest services and instead received dishonest services,” the indictment reads.
Federal prosecutors allege the scheme took place from 1993 to December 2006, a period that included Bruno’s tenure as the Senate Majority Leader, one of the three most powerful positions in state government.
According to the indictment, during that time, Bruno was paid for services he provided to two companies and three individuals:
• Wright Investors’ Service, an investment adviser in Milford, Conn.;
• McGinn, Smith & Co., an investment banking firm in Albany;
• Leonard J. Fassler, who was associated with Sage Alerting Systems, Inc. , Microknowledge Inc. , and other firms
• Russel C. Ball, who was assoicated with Roadway Contracting, Inc. , and BB Gardner Management Corp.
• Jared E. Abbruzzese, who was associated with Communication Technology Advisors LLC, and other firms.
Regading Wright Investors’, the indictment alleges Bruno signed a written agreement with the firm on March 1, 1994, that paid him a fee for each client that opened an account at the firm as a result of a referral from Bruno. Wright paid Bruno a total of $1.3 million from 1994 to 2006.
Bruno allegedly contacted 16 labor unions on behalf of Wright suggesting the unions hire Wright. Bruno did this, the indictment alleges, while he “wielded power and influence” over the unions as the Senate Majority Leader.
In August 1998, Bruno became a part-time employee of Wright, but “routinely failed to disclose his status as an employee to union officials he contacted,” as required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
A total of 11 unions that Bruno contacted during the time he worked on behalf of Wright became clients of the firm, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors allege Bruno tried to conceal the private work he did on behalf of Wright by falsely claiming his contacts with union officials had been disclosed to the “Senate” Ethics Committee. The indictment alleges Bruno had never asked for nor received an opinion from the Legislative Ethics Committee about the work he did for Wright.
Bruno said today that he was the target of an investigation started by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
“Gov. Spitzer spent much of his time as governor challenging me,” Bruno said. “I have had every relationship of my life probed, scrutinized …” Spitzer resigned last year as a result of a prostitution scandal.
Bruno said the U.S. Attorney’s office had to come up with some some charges to justify a three-year investigation that cost millions of taxpayer dollars.
“I broke no laws,” he said. “I’m a businessman. I have a right to make a living.”
Bruno took the position of chief executive officer at CMA Consulting Services in Latham in July, four days after retiring from the Senate. Kay Stafford, who stepped down as CMA’s top officer when she hired Bruno in July, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stafford, a longtime friend of Bruno’s, gave him her CEO job and became CMA’s president of the computer software development and technology consulting business.
Bruno said he would fight the charges.
“Many of you know my background. I’ve been a fighter,” he said. “I do not plan on changing now.”