Ex-NY comptroller Hevesi gets 1-4 years in prison

NEW YORK (AP) – Former New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi will have to spend time behind bars for his leading role in an influence-peddling scandal at the state's massive pension fund.

The Democrat was sentenced Friday to 1 to 4 years in prison.

For Hevesi, who was handcuffed after the sentence was pronounced, the chapter concluded a twofold downfall that stands out as a symbol of scandal even in a state that's rife with it.

“I have failed to live up to the trust of all New Yorkers and destroyed my reputation,” Hevesi, also a former state assemblyman and New York City comptroller, wrote to the court in a pre-sentencing submission. “I have also humiliated myself and made my family suffer.”

The 71-year-old pleaded guilty in October to a felony corruption charge. He admitted getting free travel and campaign contributions in exchange for helping a financier get to manage a $250 million share of the pension fund's investment dollars.

Hevesi was the highest-ranking state official entangled in a sweeping probe of “pay-to-play” practices at the $141 billion pension fund.

Hevesi admitted that in awarding pension fund investments, he “improperly favored” a venture capitalist who paid for at least $75,000 worth of travel expenses to Israel and Italy for the comptroller, his family and other officials. Hevesi also acknowledged roughly $900,000 in other favors the businessman did for him or others in his orbit, including a total of $500,000 in campaign contributions to Hevesi and other candidates he or his staff suggested.

Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed the punishment, saying in a statement:

“For government to work, it must have the trust of the people. Those who hold public office must safeguard that trust, and those who violate their oath must incur just punishment. It is a new day in Albany and the old way of doing business will not be tolerated.”

Hevesi resigned in 2006 after pleading guilty to a felony for using state workers to chauffeur his wife. The pension case emerged after he left office.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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