After an extensive investigation, federal prosecutors in 2009 claimed Joe Bruno collected millions of dollars in bogus consulting fees from several companies and, in return, helped them win state business. The fraud started in 1993, according to the eight-count indictment. With the inquiry public knowledge, Bruno had resigned as majority leader the year before.
Among other charges, Bruno was accused of taking $440,000 in payments from an upstate business partner, Jared Abbruzzese, including $80,000 paid for “a virtually worthless horse,” to a technology company Abbruzzese controlled, $2.5 million in grants to Sage Colleges, also for the benefit of the technology company, and an award of a New York Racing Association franchise. Tisk tisk, Joe.
Bruno also accepted money to help a company win contracts for managing pension funds from at least 16 unions with business before the senate.
When he left office, Bruno was the state’s most powerful Republican leader. He had headed the state senate as majority leader from 1995 until 2008 and held office starting in 1977.
Jurors convicted Bruno on two counts, including the charge that the horse-breeding partnership was intended to enrich Bruno and buy influence. Because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2010, a Second Circuit Appeals Court overturned Bruno’s convictions in 2011.
But the court also ruled he could be retried and added that the prosecution’s evidence “would permit a reasonable jury to find that Bruno performed virtually nonexistent consulting work for substantial payments” and had “attempted to cover up” his dealings. Bruno was indicted on two counts in 2012.
He did not gallop off into the sunset on a stallion. Rather, he was led away in handcuffs.