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Ex-N.Y. Senate leader Bruno acquitted in fraud trial

Ex-N.Y. Senate Leader, Joseph L. Bruno, courtesy of WNYT13, via YouTubeJoseph L. Bruno, the former majority leader of the New York State Senate, was found not guilty on federal fraud charges Friday, ending a legal battle spanning nine years.

Bruno, 85, resigned from the state legislature in 2008 amid a federal investigation into allegations that he concealed thousands of dollars in payments from an Albany businessman who sought favors from the legislature.

After a 2009 trial, Bruno was acquitted of five charges, but found guilty of two counts of mail fraud. An appeals court vacated the conviction after a conflicting decision in another case by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prosecutors brought a new trial after getting the go-ahead from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, despite Bruno’s age and ongoing battle against kidney cancer.

As in the first trial, the charges focused on Bruno’s involvement with Jared Abbruzzese, an Albany-area businessman who prosecutors alleged wanted Mr. Bruno’s help with business before the legislature.

In court, the government said Bruno took hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegitimate payments in 2004 and 2005 and calling them fees for consulting.

He was also alleged to have steered state grants to a technology firm in which Abbruzzese had a stake in return for debt forgiveness of $80,000 for a racehorse Bruno bought that turned out to be not race-worthy.

Lawyers for Bruno repeatedly suggested that the government had overreached in trying him again, and that overzealous prosecutors had targeted a hardworking, popular legislator whose behavior was not atypical in the state Capitol.

The jury delivered its verdict Friday after a two-week trial and one day of deliberations.

Last month,  state legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo moved to dismantle a state anti-corruption panel.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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