ALBANY, N.Y. - A jury convicted former New York Senate leader Joseph Bruno of two corruption counts yesterday, determining that he illegally traded on his position as one of the state's most powerful politicians to fatten his personal fortune.
Bruno, 80, faced eight fraud charges in a corruption trial that exposed Albany's practice of influence-peddling by lawmakers. The jury convicted Bruno of two counts of mail fraud; acquitted him of two counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud; and could not reach a decision on another mail-fraud count.
Prosecutors accused Bruno of denying New Yorkers his honest services while making $3.2 million by using his state influence. He consulted for three businessmen and solicited union-pension investments from labor unions on behalf of two companies.
"It goes without saying that I'm very, very disappointed in the verdict I just heard. The legal process is going to continue," said Bruno after the verdict. "In my mind and in my heart, it's not over till it's over."
Bruno was a state senator from Rensselaer County for 32 years, the last 13 as leader of the Senate's Republican majority, until retiring in 2008. As majority leader, he was one of Albany's oft-criticized "three men in a room," a potent trio that includes the governor and Assembly speaker. The three control patronage hiring, the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars and all legislation.
Prosecutors argued that Bruno was required to publicly disclose his business interests and associates, who benefited from positions Bruno took on legislation and grants.
Many of New York's 212 lawmakers, who make at least $79,500 in their part-time jobs, have outside employment. Bruno and his attorneys argued that the federal court was the wrong place to put on trial that entire system, where conflicts of interest are inevitable.