Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno Convicted of Scheming to Defraud the Citizens of New York of His Honest Services
|U.S. Attorney's Office December 07, 2009|
ALBANY, NY—United States Attorney Andrew T. Baxter and Special- Agent-in- Charge John F. Pikus of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announce the verdict of a federal jury in Albany following the three-week trial of Joseph L. Bruno, the Former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. After seven days of deliberation, the jury convicted Bruno on two felony counts, acquitted on five counts, and were unable to reach a verdict on one count of the indictment. The jury found Bruno guilty on the following “honest-services” mail fraud charges:
- Count 4, which involved Bruno’s dealings with two entities related to Jared E. Abbruzzese—Communication Technology Advisors LLC and Capital & Technology Advisors LLC—that made “consulting” payments to Bruno, which the government contended were not commensurate with legitimate services provided by Bruno; and
- Count 8, which related to Abbruzzese’s $80,000 “purchase” of a virtually worthless horse from Bruno, which the government contended was a disguised gift to Bruno to compensate him for “consulting fees” that another entity related to Abbruzzese stopped paying to Bruno.
The jury acquitted Bruno on five wire/mail fraud counts, which involved Bruno’s activities relating to other entities with which Bruno had private business arrangements—Wright Investors’ Service (Count 1), Asentinel (Count 2), two other entities related to Jared E. Abbruzzese (Counts 5 and 6), and BB Gardner Management Corporation (Count 7). The jury deadlocked on Count 3, which involved the activities of Bruno relating to Leonard J. Fassler and various related entities that made “consulting” payments to Bruno, which the government contended were not earned by Bruno for legitimate services.
U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe declared a mistrial with respect to the one count on which the jury was deadlocked. The United States Attorney’s Office will consider whether to re-try Bruno on that count following post-trial motions and after appropriate internal deliberation. Sentencing was scheduled for March 31, 2010 before Judge Sharpe. Joseph L. Bruno faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count on which he was convicted. The parties consented to a bench trial on the government’s asset forfeiture demand.
United States Attorney Baxter made the following statement regarding the Bruno verdict: “We commend the jury for their dedicated and patient service. The jury’s guilty verdict on two felony counts reflects their unanimous determination that Joseph L. Bruno deprived of the citizens of New York of his honest and faithful services, contrary to federal law. I am extremely proud of Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth C. Coombe and William C. Pericak, who made a fair and cogent presentation of the government’s case, reflecting the highest principles of federal prosecutors. We appreciate the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor in developing this seminal case and assisting with the prosecution.”
Bruno was charged with carrying out a scheme to defraud the State of New York and its citizens of the right to his honest services by soliciting private business from, and entering into direct and indirect financial relationships with, persons or entities who were pursuing interests before the New York State Legislature or other state agencies. The indictment further alleged that Bruno concealed and failed to disclose the existence and true nature of such financial relationships, and the resulting conflicts of interest while taking discretionary official actions benefitting parties with whom he had those relationships. While New York State legislators are part-time officials permitted to pursue other employment or business activities, the indictment alleged that Bruno improperly exploited his official position and concealed conflicts of interest, contrary to state ethics and reporting laws, with respect to his private “consulting” business. Each count of the indictment alleged particular uses of the mails or the interstate wires in furtherance of the alleged scheme.
United States Attorney Baxter continued: “As the Senate Majority Leader, Joseph L. Bruno had a fiduciary relationship with the State of New York and its citizens requiring disinterested decision making and candid disclosure of the potential motivation behind his official acts. We established at this trial that Bruno exploited his office by concealing the nature and source of substantial payments that he received from parties that benefitted from his official actions and the resulting conflicts of interest.”
“The prosecutors and agents involved in this case take no pleasure from what the trial revealed about the culture of the New York State Senate, under the leadership of Joseph L. Bruno. Federal law enforcement in the Northern District of New York will continue to strive to ensure that public officials who breach their public trust will be held accountable, notwithstanding the challenges presented by the state’s inadequate legislative ethics and disclosure laws.”