Saturday, January 24, 2009

Former NY GOP Leader Indicted

by Derek Kravitz

The former majority leader of the New York State Senate was indicted today, charged with steering state and union contracts to companies that paid him $3.2 million disguised as consulting fees.

Joseph Bruno, 79, a state lawmaker from Albany for 32 years before his retirement last year, pleaded not guilty to eight corruption-related counts during a court appearance today. Prosecutors allege that he used his power between 1993 to 2006 to help a handful of companies.

A defiant Bruno, a former boxer, told reporters outside the federal courthouse today that the FBI's three-year probe was a "get Joe Bruno campaign."

"This is a three-year fishing expedition that smells really really bad and it really stinks, in plain English," Bruno said, according to the New York Daily News.

Like many old-school politicians, Bruno has become a revered, somewhat iconic figure in New York state politics. He grew up in a poor neighborhood north of Albany and worked his way through college before becoming a top executive at a telecommunications company.

Along the way, he had "developed a taste for fine things nice cars, jet travel and expensive suits," according to his hometown newspaper, the Albany Times Union.

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