New York's History of Political Corruption

Monday, Aug 27, 2012  |  Updated 1:17 PM EDT
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New York's History of Political Corruption

Alan Hevesi

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Former Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno's two-year prison sentence is the latest to join New York's list of high profile misconduct cases.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed suit in April against Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, accusing the Bronx Democrat of siphoning $14 million for himself and his family from his government-funded health care clinic in the Bronx. A day later, federal agents raided the clinic as part of a criminal investigation. Espada says the accusations are baseless and motivated by Cuomo's desire to run for governor.

— State Sen. Hiram Monserrate was convicted last year of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend and acquitted by a judge on a felony count that would have automatically cost him his seat. The Senate voted 53-8 in February to expel him. He lost a March special election to win back the seat.

— Former Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio pleaded guilty last year to defrauding his Queens constituents of honest services and collecting $1 million in consulting fees by leveraging his legislative job. He was sentenced in February to six years in prison.

— Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 after he was named in a prostitution investigation.

— State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, a Democratic assemblyman from Queens for 22 years and later New York City comptroller, pleaded guilty in state court to fraud in 2006 for using state workers to chauffeur his wife. He was fined $5,000 and barred from holding public office. Cuomo is now investigating his role as trustee of the state's massive pension system, the center of a "pay-to-play" scandal that has led to numerous prosecutions.

— Sen. Guy Velella, a Bronx Republican, pleaded guilty to taking bribes from contractors from 1995 to 2000 and helping them win public works contracts. He quit his seat and spent six months in jail.

— Assembly Speaker Mel Miller was accused of cheating clients out of proceeds in the sale of eight cooperative apartments and convicted by a federal jury in 1991. The conviction was overturned on appeal. He became a lobbyist.

— Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein was charged with assigning Senate staff to work on political campaigns in 1986 elections. The Manhattan Democrat was cleared after the Court of Appeals ruled the Legislature did not prohibit the practice, common at the time. He stepped down in 1995 after 34 years. He became a lobbyist.

— Assembly Speaker Stanley Steingut, a Brooklyn Democrat, was charged in 1975 with corrupt use of his position to promise a city political appointment in return for campaign fund support for his son's election in Brooklyn to the City Council. Charges were dismissed after the Court of Appeals ruled the Brooklyn prosecutor lacked jurisdiction in Manhattan. Steingut lost a Democratic primary in 1978 and returned to his law practice.

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