Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
New York, NY —
Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has been sentenced to two years in prison. Bruno was convicted on two counts of felony federal corruption charges last December. He has also agreed to pay $280,000 in restitution. Prosecutors had been seeking an eight-year sentence.
Bruno’s financial dealings were at the center of a three-year investigation that found he had deprived his constituents of “honest services” dating back to the 1980s. The jury found that Bruno took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of payments from a businessman seeking legislative favors.
The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the "honest services" statute in three other cases, and is expected to rule by the end of June. Bruno will be allowed to stay free on bail until after the court rules.
Bruno, 81, was a Republican Senator for 30 years and Senate majority leader from 1994 to 2008. He was seen as one of the state’s most powerful leaders and as one of the "three men in a room," including the governor and assembly leader, whose decisions strongly influence Albany. When Gov. Eliot Spitzer stepped down in 2008 and Gov. David Paterson took over, Bruno became the lieutenant governor.