Bruno Sentenced to Two Years in Jail

Joseph Bruno, once one of the most powerful political figures in New York, was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison on two federal fraud counts.

The 81-year-old Bruno was the Republican leader of the state Senate for 13 years, controlling that chamber's legislation and billions of dollars in spending.

He was convicted Dec. 7 of using his office to help a businessman who paid him as a consultant and in a horse venture, violations of the federal honest services law.

Bruno was acquitted of five other counts involving accusations he used his position to help two other businessmen, as well as two investment companies interested in handling union pension funds. The jury was unable to reach a decision on another count.

Bruno told friends and relatives after his sentencing that he'd be OK.

"It'll be all right," Bruno said. "It'll be fine."

Bruno didn't testify at trial but repeatedly told reporters he had done nothing wrong and was just another part-time legislator with an outside consulting business. His legal bills have been estimated at $2.5 million.

Prosecutors urged eight years in prison, saying that was at the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. The defense requested probation and a fine, saying Bruno had no prior criminal record, had a long history of public service in government and charity and had compromised health, including recovery from prostate cancer. He has agreed to pay $280,000 in restitution.

Defense attorney William Dreyer has said they will appeal.

As leader of the Republicans, who controlled the Senate for four decades until 2009, Bruno was considered one of the three most powerful figures in Albany. Along with the governor and Assembly Democratic leader, he was one of the "three men in a room" who made all major decisions on New York laws, programs and other initiatives. Bruno stepped down in 2008 as friends and associates were being called to testify to a grand jury.

During his monthlong trial at the federal courthouse a half-mile down the hill from the Capitol, none of his former Republican colleagues showed up. A few Democratic senators occasionally did, sitting with Bruno's adult children and friends to show support.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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