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NEW YORK Jan 23 New York state's former
Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno was indicted on
Friday by a federal grand jury on corruption charges.
The indictment charges Bruno with eight counts, including
mail and wire fraud, linked to his obtaining brokerage business
for unions and failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of
dollars of payments and gifts.
Bruno resigned his post in July 2008 after 32 years of
public service, saying it was time for him to move on. He has
said that the lengthy probe of his business dealings would find
he had done nothing wrong, a statement he repeated on Friday.
"I did nothing wrong. I broke no laws. We were a part-time
legislature," Bruno, who represented Rensselaer and Saratoga
Counties, said in a statement he read to Albany reporters.
Many of the indictment's charges allege that Bruno
exploited his powerful public position for personal gain,
depriving the state of his "honest services."
Lawmakers cannot accept gifts worth more than $75 if they
could appear to be directed at gaining influence.
The U.S. indictment said Bruno contacted people or
companies with business before the legislature or state
agencies, "exploiting his official position for personal
compensation and enrichment, knowing and believing that his
reasonably perceived ability to influence official action
would, at least in part, motivate those he contacted to enter
into financial relationships beneficial to his personal
Bruno was paid $3.198 million from 1994 to 2006 by two
companies and three individuals, via their firms, the
indictment said. It further charged that Bruno did not fully
disclose his business dealings to the legislature, nor tell
some of the companies that he had failed to do so.
Asked why no one else was charged, Andrew Baxter, the
acting U.S. attorney, said: "You need to understand that this
indictment does not charge anyone with bribery or with
Instead, the charges focus on what Baxter called Bruno's
failing to disclose the financial interests that could have
swayed his official actions.
Baxter added that Bruno faces up to 20 years in jail and a
maximum fine of $250,000. But Baxter also wants Bruno to
forfeit any property he is charged with wrongly obtaining.
In one instance, Bruno, who owns a horse farm in upstate
New York, was paid $80,000 for a horse that "was virtually
worthless," the indictment said.
Former Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a fierce rival of
Bruno's, had previously alleged Bruno used state aircraft for
trips that mixed business with fund-raising.
But Spitzer resigned in mid-March amid a prostitution
scandal, saving himself from a grand jury probe into whether
releasing that information was a political smear campaign.
The list of companies that paid Bruno included Wright
Investors' Service of Milford, Connecticut, which advised union
funds about investments, and McGinn, Smith & Co of Albany, an
investment banking and brokerage firm.
The list of businessmen who paid Bruno included Jared
Abbruzzese and Leonard Fassler, who have interests in
technology companies, and Russell Ball, a contractor.
Wright Investors Service said it had done nothing wrong.
"Wright was unaware of any improper or unethical activities
by Mr. Bruno in connection with Wright, our clients or
prospective clients," the firm said in a statement.