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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Very Interesting: NY's Top Judge Best Buddies with Top Law/Money Maker

Pal says Bruno wanted his own 'Shel game'
The New York Post ADAM NICHOLS - November 22, 2009

ALBANY, NY -- Former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno allegedly pitched a friend on a $30,000-a-month consultant job because he saw Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver making big bucks as a lawyer -- and he too wanted in on the side-gig action. The bombshell claim -- which exposed the routine, sanctioned dysfunction in New York's Capitol -- came from the star witness in Bruno's political corruption trial, who took the stand as prosecutors closed their three-week case yesterday. Jared Abbruzzese, a Bruno golfing buddy, said he was sharing a plane ride back from West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2004 when the powerful Republican legislator made his surprising proposal. "He started talking about Sheldon Silver and how Sheldon Silver was getting paid 40, 50, 60 thousand a month from the trial lawyers association," Abbruzzese, whose relationship with Bruno kicked off a far-flung FBI probe, said on the stand. Silver is "of counsel" to the Manhattan firm Weitz & Luxenberg and is believed to earn lucrative compensation that he's not required to disclose. Abbruzzese, an Albany-area businessman, also said about Bruno: "He brought up the possibility of a consultation agreement between my company and him. "He started talking about the uniqueness of New York state [lawmakers], about how they are part-time legislators, and how they are allowed to work away from it."

The bombshell testimony was the latest astonishing portrait painted by prosecutors of the state's Capitol, where critics have long howled that government and personal business routinely mix without clear separation. Abbruzzese said Bruno called him a few days after the plane ride to renew his pitch. "I said something like, I would consider it. What would he want? He said, '30,000 a month,' " he testified. "I said, 'I'm not going to pay you 30,000 a month. Maybe I'll pay you 10.' " They eventually agreed on $20,000 a month, he said. Bruno received $200,000 during the 10 months of the deal, he said. This drew a quick denial from Bruno, the lawyers group and Silver, a Democrat. "The evidence he was giving was that Sheldon Silver is a trial lawyer and he just misspoke," Bruno, 80, told reporters outside court. "Never did I say that [he earns that much from the association]. That would be just ludicrous." Silver's spokesman, Dan Weiller, said any notion that the speaker gets cash from a lawyers' group is "absolutely not true." Prosecutors have accused Bruno of denying citizens honest services by commingling private and public work and then trying to hide it. The stunning testimony came a day after prosecutors revealed that Bruno secured a $2.5 million legislative grant to create office space for an Abbruzzese firm. Abbruzzese said Bruno's contribution to the businessman's tech firm was providing "his contacts" and giving credibility to him and his companies by appearing with him. "I didn't need him for his telecommunications advice. I wanted him for his Rolodex," he said. But he said the only appearances he could recall were dinners they had at hard-to-book New York restaurants like Rao's.

"I used Senator Bruno to try to build credibility. It was a visual presentation," he said. He said Bruno also introduced him to Donald Trump and to businessman Richard Field, who was building a casino in Florida. Abbruzzese also hired Bruno in July 2005 to work for two of his other firms. But in August, Abbruzzese's new CEO, Bob Brumley, wondered why they were paying Bruno for so little work. "I said, 'It's your company. You do what you like,' " Abbruzzese said. "I told Bruno, 'You're terminated.' He said, 'Ouch.' " But Abbruzzese said he felt he had shortchanged Bruno. "I felt I had an obligation to come to a successful conclusion," he said -- so "I bought a horse for $80,000 from him." The horse, Christy's Night Out, has been described as virtually worthless. The defense wrapped up its case in the afternoon, and the two sides will present summation arguments in Albany federal court on Monday. Bruno won't take the stand in his defense.

1 comment:

do i hear ten dollars? said...

Everything is New York is for sale. Period. And if Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno's mothers were alive, they'd sell them too!

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
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