A jury in Albany, N.Y., has convicted former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno of committing two felony crimes while in office.
The complicated verdict, delivered Dec. 7 at 4:17 p.m., also acquits Bruno of five other accusations of mail and wire fraud. On an additional count, the jury remained deadlocked and could not reach unanimous agreement.
Bruno, 80, faces a maximum $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison for each count he was convicted on.
Sentencing has been set for March 31, 2010.
Bruno’s attorneys are preparing an appeal, which would delay the start of any sentence for months and months. Bruno’s attorneys have 36 days to appeal.
The verdict ended the first round of the high-profile criminal trial of Bruno. The 12-person jury, made of seven women and five men, deliberated for almost seven full days before delivering their verdict.
Federal prosecutors accused Bruno, an iconic politician from Brunswick, of intentionally and illegally covering up his outside business consulting activities while in office. Federal prosecutors say Bruno devised and carried out a scheme to hide his business dealings—which often included people or companies who had business before the state—by withholding information on annual disclosure reports that legislators must file with the state.
Bruno made $3.2 million through his consulting work over a 12-year period.
“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 benefited from his official actions and the resulting conflicts of interest,” said acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Baxter, who runs the Albany division of the U.S. Attorney’s office.
By law, state legislators are part-time workers, enabling them to hold outside employment if they want.
Bruno has consistently maintained his innocence, saying he broke no laws. He did not testify at his trial.
“It goes without saying I’m very, very disappointed with the verdict I just heard,” Bruno said outside U.S. District Court in downtown Albany, clearly stung by the jury’s decision.
“The legal process is going to continue, and in my mind and in my heart, it’s not over until it’s over—and it’s far from over,” Bruno added, before stepping into a vehicle driven by Kay Stafford, who is Bruno’s boss at CMA Consulting Services in Latham.
Three years ago, Bruno confirmed an ongoing FBI investigation into his outside business activities. He retired from the Senate in June 2008. He was indicted in January 2009.
Bruno was found guilty on a count of fraud involving 11 mailings of checks in 2004, sent by companies connected with Loudonville businessman Jared Abbruzzese to Bruno’s firm, Capital Business Consultants.
Prosecutors said Bruno performed little to no work for the money, meaning that the payments should have been reported as gifts on Bruno’s annual financial disclosure reports.
Bruno was also found guilty on a count of fraud involving a racehorse partnership with Abbruzzese. It included Abbruzzese paying Bruno $80,000 for what prosecutors described as a nearly worthless racehorse; Abbruzzese testified he bought the horse for that price to compensate Bruno for money he was supposed to get in a consulting contract with one of his companies.
Still, the jury acquitted Bruno of two other counts involving work allegedly performed for other businesses Abbruzzese was connected with.
In all, Abbruzzese paid Bruno $440,000 from 2004-06 for work allegedly performed for at least four companies. Earlier in the decade, Bruno steered $500,000 of state grants to Troy firm Evident Technologies Inc., which Abbruzzese financed and chaired.
The jury also acquitted Bruno of any counts connected with McGinn Smith & Co Inc., an Albany brokerage firm that employed Bruno part-time from 1994-2006.