Paying the price for stealing from the state – a judge tells former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi to pony-up more cash for using a state employee to chauffeur his wife.
Hevesi apologized to family, co-workers, and the people of New York State as he walked into court Friday morning. He is going to have to pay back more money to the state – but once that is over, he is a free man.
The judge is ordering Hevesi to pay back another five-thousand dollars. He will serve no jail time, and no probation. And what he also will not do – ever again – is serve in public office.
NEWS10's Jeff Stoecker was in the courtroom for Friday morning's sentencing. He has more on the end of the scandal.
Alan Hevesi entered the Albany County Courthouse, ready to close the door on the scandal that cost him his job. He spoke briefly before he was formally sentenced.
“It will be a delight to put it behind me, but it will never be behind me,” Hevesi says.
But now, at least the legal part of the so-called 'Driving Mrs. Hevesi' scandal is behind him. With attorneys by his side and his children behind him, Alan Hevesi was formally sentenced.
“I am culpable…I apologize,” Hevesi told the court.
Hevesi's fall from grace began last fall when allegations surfaced that he was using state paid employees to chauffeur his sick wife and to perform household tasks. Hevesi's attorney chose to focus on his clients character, and recounted a distinguished 35-year record of public service and good judgement.
His attorney, Joel Cohen, also alluded to his belief that if Hevesi did not make a plea deal, he could have won this case. Cohen recounted a taped interview between representatives of the Albany County District Attorney's Office and Hevesi's physically and emotionally ailing wife – and one specific comment she made: “I guess my husband wasn't very lucky in choosing me.”
The room was then deafening, Cohen says. He says moments like that are where acquittals happen.
Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick was not so convinced.
“Your fall from grace came from a very great height…your actions, totally unacceptable,” Judge Herrick told Hevesi, pulling no punches before Hevesi's sentence was final.
District Attorney David Soares and his Public Integrity Unit put the heat on Hevesi.
“He's a distinguished politician…to end this way, is a shame,” says Soares.
Soares says this case has sparked more tips on possible ethical breaches by public officials, though he would not comment on any pending cases.
“Hopefully your failure will serve as a deterrent, for similar breaches,” Judge Herrick told Hevesi.
Hevesi had little to say after he left the courthouse. But when he was asked about the judge's harsh criticism, he said this: “I'll keep my reaction to myself.”
There were no surprises Friday morning. All the terms were agreed to as part of the plea deal.
And with his public life effectively over, Hevesi says he does not know what is in his future.
“That's to be determined, what to do with the rest of my life,” says Hevesi.