Items tagged with 'corruption'

Looking through the federal and state accusations involving SUNY Poly and Alain Kaloyeros

ualbany college of nanoscale science engineering exterior south side

Updated with details from the charges filed by the state Attorney General's office.

As you've probably heard by now, the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara announced public corruption charges against a group of people that includes Joe Percoco, a former top Andrew Cuomo aide, and Alain Kaloyeros, the head of SUNY Poly.

The charges cover allegations that broadly fall into two overlapping categories -- one focused on allegations that Percoco traded his influence inside in the Cuomo admin for bribes (or "ziti" as the money was allegedly referred to), and the other on allegations that Kaloyeros and Todd Howe, another longtime associate of the Cuomos, rigged the application process for large construction projects in Buffalo and Syracuse.

Bharara emphasized Thursday that the complaint includes no allegations against Andrew Cuomo.

The allegations against Kaloyeros are, of course, of great interest in this area because of the huge presence of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. So let's look at some of the bits related to those accusations.

(there's more)

Lineup for Museum of Political Corruption event includes Zephyr Teachout

museum of political corruption kickbackThe Museum of Political Corruption project has a public event coming up focused on -- surprise! -- political corruption. The roundtable discussion and public forum is April 4 at the Touhey Forum at Saint Rose (1009 Madison Ave) at 7:30 pm. It's free to attend.

The lineup (descriptions via MPC):

+ Frank Anechiarico, ​Maynard-Knox Professor of Government and Law, Hamilton College, author of The Pursuit of Absolute Integrity: How Corruption Control Makes Government Ineffective
+ Blair Horner, Executive Director, New York Public Interest Research Group
+ Zephyr Teachout - Associate Professor of Law, Fordham University, author of Corruption in America
+ Jimmy Vielkind, POLITICO, New York's Albany Bureau Chief
+ Moderator: Thomas Bass, Professor of English and Journalism at SUNY Albany

(As you know, Teachout is also running for the NY 19 Congressional District. And she ran against Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination in the last gubernatorial election.)

The project -- the website for which projects it's "due to open in 2019" -- is also holding a fundraiser ahead of the public event at The Point (it's just up the street from Saint Rose). Admission to that is a donation of $25 or more.

"Nellie Bly's Interesting Experience in Albany"

nellie bly king of the lobby composite

Nellie Bly and her article about "The King of the Lobby" in Albany.

Tuesday -- May 5 -- was the birthday of Nellie Bly, one of the most important and colorful figures in the history of American journalism.

In 1887 Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Cochrane, became famous for pulling off an audacious undercover story in which she got herself checked into a New York asylum for the mentally ill and reported on the conditions. She'd later stoke her fame by racing around the world in less than 80 days.

If Nellie Bly was around today -- even the actual 19th century Nellie Bly, transported in a time machine -- she'd probably have her own online media startup and would be killing the competition. Vice, Vox, Buzzfeed, bow down before the original queen.

One of Bly's articles for the New York World brought to her to Albany in 1888. And the story will have a familiar ring to it: she came here to buy some state legislators.

(there's more)

Yep, they were listening

state capitol sale signHere's the rundown of allegations made against Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, today by the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara.

If you've been following state politics over the last few years, all of it will sound sadly familiar.

Cue the Bharara corruption-in-state government soundbite: "By now, two things should be abundantly clear. First, public corruption is a deep-seated problem in New York State. It is a problem in both chambers; it is a problem on both sides of the aisle. And second, we are deadly serious about tackling that problem."

Cue the Skelos statement: "I am innocent of the charges leveled against me. I am not saying I am just not guilty, I am saying that I am innocent. I fully expect to be exonerated by a public jury trial."

The short story: The feds allege that Dean Skelos used his position in state government to set up, and sustain, a job and payments to his son in an arrangement involving a real estate developer and a company that made wastewater filtering tech.

The juiciest bits are in the complaint itself, including this section that must have had the federal investigators snorting with laughter:

On March 28, 2015, ADAM SKELOS placed an intercepted call to DEAN SKELOS (AS4.182), who relayed he was in Albany seeking to finalize the State budget. ADAM SKELOS complained that his father could not give him "real advice" concerning issues with the Environmental Technology Company because "you can't talk normally because its like fucking Preet Bharara is listening to every fucking phone call. It's just fucking frustrating." DEAN SKELOS replied, "It is."

The state Capitol media, of course, have saturation coverage of this: New York Times, State of Politics, TU Cap Con, Capital/Politico, Gannett, and many others.

A quick scan of the feds' allegations against Sheldon Silver

sheldon silver federal complaint screengrab

As you have no doubt heard incessantly today, Sheldon Silver -- the loooongtime speaker of the state Assembly, one of the most powerful politicians in New York -- was arrested by the feds today on corruption charges. Silver said Thursday afternoon that he's "confident that when all the answers are aired I will be vindicated." [State of Politics]

So what exactly are the feds accusing Silver of having done?

Here it is, broken down in a quick-scan format.

(there's more)

Sheldon Silver arrested

sheldon silver at podiumHuge state politics news: Sheldon Silver has been arrested by the feds on corruption charges -- he turned himself in to the FBI Thursday morning in New York City, according to the New York Times.

NYT first reported back in December that Silver was under investigation by the feds, and reported Wednesday night that the Speaker of the state Assembly would be arrested. From NYT:

The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.
The federal inquiry, led by the United States Attorney for the Southern District, focused on payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes.
While it is legal for lawmakers to hold outside jobs, investigators said Mr. Silver failed to list the payments from the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, on his annual financial disclosure filings with the state.
In the past, Mr. Silver has been criticized for his outside law practice, a lucrative career that supplements the $121,000 he earns as speaker.
In 2013, Mr. Silver earned at least $650,000 in legal income, including work for the personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, according to his most recent financial disclosure filing.
But what he does to earn that income has long been a mystery in Albany, and Mr. Silver has refused to provide details about his work.

Silver's attorneys issued a statement Thursday morning: "We're disappointed that the prosecutors have chosen to proceed with these meritless criminal charges." [WSJ]

As recently as two weeks ago Silver, in typical Sheldon Silver fashion, calmly no-commented the news that he was under investigation. [NYDN]

Silver, who represents a section of lower Manhattan, has been speaker for just short of forever (well, 1994), the second longest tenure in New York history. He is one of "The Three Men in a Room" of state government. And he's demonstrated a remarkable ability during that time to ride out the waves and scandals (of which there have been many) in the legislature. Here's a NY Mag article from a few years back that looked at Silver's ability to persist.

More than 30 New York state legislators have faced ethical or criminal charges since 2000, according to list kept by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Some history: Over at State of Politics, Liz Benjamin looks at what happened the last time an Assembly speaker was arrested, in 1990.

photo: Nyer42 via Wikipedia

Albany Museum of Political Corruption

eliot spitzer client no 9 museum frameWith Trader Joe's now in the area, Bruce Roter has moved on to another pursuit: an Albany Museum of Political Corruption.

As Roter tells the Biz Review's Mike DeMasi: "That's what Albany is known for. Why shy away from it? Let's embrace it. If other politicians can come from around the state and sully the name of Albany, why not cash in on it?"

From the Facebook page Roter has set up for the idea:

Just think of it, a wonderful "rogue's gallery" of those who have sullied Albany's fine name!

And the creative possibilities!... for example, visitors wouldn't pay an entrance fee, they'd pay a bribe! (of course). And parents will be encouraged to lie about how old their children are!

And the gift shop, ladies and gentlemen, that will be the best! We will sell little dolls of men and women in suits, and written on their backs will be this: "I bought this legislator in Albany, NY." ...

Friends, we here in Albany take ourselves too seriously. A bit of self-deprecating humor would serve us well. Or, to "corrupt" the lyrics from a famous song: "a spoonful of irreverence makes the medicine go down!"

[via @AlbBizMikeD]

From way back: No Trader Joe's, no peace: What's up with Bruce Roter's supermarket activism [CelinaBean]

Spitzer photo: US Department of State via Wikipedia

State legislation: $10,000

state capitol sale sign

For the second time this week, federal prosecutors announced bribery and corruption charges against a state legislator. This time it was state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, a Democrat from the Bronx. From US Attorney Preet Bharara's statement:

As alleged, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was bribed to enact a statutory moratorium to give his co-defendants a local monopoly - a fairly neat trick that offends core principles of both democracy and capitalism, simultaneously, and it is exactly what the defendants managed to do. The allegations illustrate the corruption of an elected representative's core function - a legislator selling legislation.

OK, so how much do you think local monopoly-creating state legislation goes for these days? Here's some help: One of the businessmen allegedly involved in this scheme said the moratorium on the opening of new adult day care centers would cause the value of their own day care centers to "skyrocket." That's gotta be worth a lot. So Stevenson must have really raked in some serious coin for this alleged deal, especially when you consider the risks, right?

The alleged bribe: $10,000.

Yep, that's all it allegedly cost to buy a piece of state legislation that would effectively block competition for what is probably a multi-million dollar business. Just 10 grand. That's not even enough to buy a new sub-compact car.

Which leads us to wonder: Why haven't we been buying state legislation all along?! Who knew it was so cheap?! It's practically a steal! Do you get a discount if you buy in bulk? If we order it via Amazon Prime, can we have it delivered the next day (in session only)?

The fact that there is corruption in state government is already frustrating, irksome, and sad -- it's even more so when we find we're all being sold out at such a discount.

A spot in the mayoral primary
Earlier this week, state Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, was charged with being part of scheme to bribe three Republican city officials to let him on their party's primary ballot for mayor of New York City. The alleged price (bribe) for that: about $100,000 paid by an intermediary -- and help getting $500k from the state for a road project.

State IG: public's best interest was of "militant indifference" to state leaders in Aqueduct project

A report out today from the State Inspector General criticizes pretty much all the state leaders involved with the failed AEG bid for the big Aqueduct racino project. The report alleges that leaders ignored vetting, leaked info, took questionable campaign contributions or just didn't try to stop a process they knew to be flawed.

Says state IG Joseph Fish in the press release:

This process was doomed from the start, and at each turn, our state leaders abdicated their public duty, failed to impose ethical restraints and focused on political gain at a cost of millions to New Yorkers ... Unfortunately, and shamefully, consideration of what was in the public's best interest, rather than the political interest of the decision makers, was a matter of militant indifference to them.

The IG's office says it's forwarding the report to federal and local prosecutors, as well as the state Legislative Ethics Commission.

The Aqueduct project has since been won by another investor, Genting New York. Some of the revenue from the deal will be used to prop up horse racing in the state -- including $100 million in improvements at Saratoga Race Course (though it could be 2012 before that happens). [TU CapCon] [Saratogian]

Will Supreme Court decisions let Bruno off the hook?

joe bruno sentencing closeup cropThe Supreme Court of the United State issued decisions today in three cases (1, 2, 3) involving the "theft of honest services" law -- the law used to convict Joe Bruno.

The Supremes were unanimous that the law is "unconstitutionally vague". Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes in the majority opinion of Skilling vs. US (as in Jeff Skilling, the Enron guy) that Congress intended the law to cover "schemes to defraud involving bribes and kickbacks," but it's too vague to say it covers anything beyond that. [NYT] [SCOTUS]

Federal prosecutors went after Bruno mainly for not disclosing conflicts of interest -- not for bribes or kickbacks. And the Supremes ruled that the law doesn't cover such conflicts of interest. So these rulings could help Bruno get off the hook. [TU] [SCOTUS Blog]

His lawyers are reportedly setting up a meeting with federal prosecutors to discuss the case. The judge in Joe Bruno's case has allowed the former state Senator to stay out of prison, pending the decisions in these SCOTUS cases. [NYT]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Speed reading the coverage of the Joe Bruno sentencing
+ Joe Bruno sentenced to two years
+ Should the "Joe" name go?
+ Speed reading the coverage of the Joe Bruno guilty verdict
+ Joe Bruno guilty on two counts
+ Retro Joe Bruno

Speed reading the coverage of the Joe Bruno sentencing

joe bruno sentencing closeup

He still may not end up going to prison.

A federal judge sentenced Joe Bruno to two years in prison on corruption charges yesterday.

Here are a bunch of the quick scan highlights from the coverage -- including bits about the "vintage" Bruno speech, the judge, the sentence and the reaction.

(there's more)

Joe Bruno sentenced to two years

joe bruno post sentence

Joe Bruno talking with the media after the sentencing: "I'm proud of my public service."

The federal judge in the Joe Bruno case has sentenced the former state Senate majority leader to two years in prison -- and three years of post-release supervision. He's also been ordered to pay $280,000 in restitution.

He'll be allowed to stay out on bail until the Supreme Court of the United States rules on its theft of honest services cases. If SCOTUS rules against the theft of honest services laws, Bruno will go free.

During his statement in court before the sentence was announced, the TU reports Bruno said: "In my heart and in my mind, I did nothing wrong ... nothing!"

After the sentencing, he told the media outside the court house: "I'm proud of my public service and I don't believe I have anything to apologize for." He added that he's praying the Supreme Court will strike down the theft of honest services law. (State of Politics has posted a video clip of Bruno's comments.)

Federal prosecutors had been looking for an 8-year sentence. Bruno's attorney's were looking for no jail time and a fine. The two sides had agreed on the restitution.

WTEN reports that Bruno headed for Jack's after the sentencing and traffic came to a standstill at Broadway and State as he crossed the street.

You can follow tweets about the Bruno sentence through this search.

More post-sentencing photos after the jump.

(there's more)

SEC: Albany firm invested in "sexually-themed charter cruise venture"

yolo napkinFrom the SEC complaint against Albany investment firm McGinn, Smith & Co., which alleges the firm raised more than $136 million for fraudulent investments (emphasis added):

The Defendants also used offering proceeds to make unauthorized investments in and unsecured loans to speculative, financially troubled McGinn Smith Entities, to make MS & Co.'s payroll, to pay commission and transaction fees to McGinn Smith Entities, to make interest payments to investors in other entities, to support McGinn's and Smith's lifestyle, and to procure strippers for a "sexually themed" cruise.

Oh, wait. There's more:

78. McGinn, MS Capital and MS & Co. also deceived investors into unwittingly investing in a sexually-oriented charter cruise venture created by McGinn. In February 2008, MS & Co. launched a $3,250,000 note offering for an entity 50% owned by an MS & Co. affiliate called CCV. The PPM stated that CCV "is engaged in the business of procuring whole ship charters and selling the berths to various affinity groups." The PPM stated that the net proceeds of the offering would be used to charter a ship and to "underwrite the marketing, sales and administrative expenses associated with selling [the] berths for the cruise."
79. The PPM did not disclose that CCV operated under the name YOLO (You Only Live Once) Cruises, that the affinity group was sexually oriented, that strippers and go-go dancers would be procured to entertain passengers, that investor money would be used to buy insurance for these individuals and that YOLO was run by a woman with whom McGinn was romantically involved.

YOLO would appear to be this cruise company. No, that link is probably not safe for work.

(there's more)

Andrew Cuomo accuses Pedro Espada of "looting"

pedro espada pointingThe state attorney general's office announced today that it's filed suit against state Senator Pedro Espada for "looting the Bronx based not-for-profit where Espada serves as President and CEO."

Said Andrew Cuomo in a statement: "Taxpayer money was given to this not-for-profit to provide healthcare services to underprivileged patients, but our investigation has found the funds flowed into the pockets of Senator Espada and his supporters."

Among the many allegations: Soundview, Espada's health care not-for-profit, paid for "more than 200 meals totaling more than $20,000 from two sushi restaurants that regularly received orders from Espada's wife and delivered to the Espada home in Mamaroneck."

image: NY Senate

State inspector general: more than $1 million in improper spending at NYSTI

state inspector general logoOh, the drama. A report out from the state Inspector General's office today alleges that Patricia Snyder, the director of the New York State Theater Institute (which is in Troy), "repeatedly violated state laws on nepotism and used the state authority to steer nearly $700,000 in payments and benefits to her husband, her children, and herself, while overseeing an additional $475,000 in questionable expenses."

A sampling of the allegations in the IG's report are after the jump.

The IG's office also alleges that Snyder "took actions to frustrate and mislead the inquiry" and at one point said:

"You know, you are getting into very dicey waters, artistically. I will tell you, the arts community will be up in arms with this line of questioning. We are talking about artists . . . Art is not like running an OGS office."

Snyder is NYSTI's founding director. According to the org's website, "Snyder believed that theatre for family audiences must be of the highest quality, and that theatre can be used to make the world a better place."

The Paterson administration's proposed budget this year planned to cut state funding for NYSTI by half this year and completely next year. A group popped up to oppose the cuts. From a recent post on the wall of the Save NYSTI Facebook page by Snyder: "Everyone, write your Senators and ask them to restore funding to NYSTI during budget negotiations. It's the last chance."

Update: E. Stewart Jones, who's representing Snyder, told NYT: "This report is mean spirited and monumental nonsense."

(there's more)

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Approval for another big apartment project, Warehouse District reuse, Pine Hills demos, and more exciting tales of the Albany planning board

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million... (more)

Flowers from the Netherlands, then

Decorative arts break: The earthenware tiles above are from the collection of the Albany Institute -- they date to around 1625 and they were made... (more)

Chuck Schumer is supporting marijuana decriminalization (and thinks legalization in states has worked out pretty well)

Chuck Schumer says he'll be introducing legislation for decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level, which would allow states to decide on the legality of recreational... (more)

History days at Cherry Hill and Ten Broeck Mansion

Historic Cherry Hill and the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany are again hosting early May history days, this time on May 6: Historic Cherry Hill:... (more)

Morning Blend

Cities and trash + The city of Albany is apparently behind schedule on mapping out a plan for how to handle its trash after the... (more)

Recent Comments

... Also I would try a Tux shop. They do measurements for other tux shops all the time (for free), it's an industry courtesy. Waldorf Tux shop (Lark St) is an independently owned, "old school" tux shop--real sense of proper fitting---not just taking the "closest size" from the rack. ...

Chuck Schumer is supporting marijuana decriminalization (and thinks legalization in states has worked out pretty well)

...has 1 comment, most recently from ace

Where to donate a virtually new mattress?

...has 10 comments, most recently from EMB

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 1 comment, most recently from Audrey

A look around the new Cafe Madison

...has 2 comments, most recently from mg

The new season of the CDPHP Cycle bike share has started up

...has 4 comments, most recently from Paul