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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bruno: The facts will come out in court

Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno met briefly with Record staffers Tuesday to discuss his recent indictment by a federal grand jury and to explain his views on how U.S. Attorneys and FBI officials had concocted the case against him.

The eight count indictment handed up Friday charged New York's former top Republican with carrying out a scheme defraud the state and its citizens of the right to his honest services when he received $3.2 million in private consulting fees for work they say was never done between 1993 and 2006.

Bruno said that he wanted to get the case into open court as soon as possible and that he would be proven innocent of any wrongdoing in the end. He also believed that government officials had rushed to put the indictment together last week, as the federal grand jury was about to be disbanded, because they had been unable to find witnesses or other supporting proof that he had engaged in anything improper throughout their investigation.

In their indictment, U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth Coombe and William Pericak alleged that Bruno had exploited his official position by receiving money from individuals and entities who often had business before the state legislature, directly or through his so-called "consulting" companies.

Government officials also said that Bruno did not properly file financial disclosure forms and misrepresented approvals from the Legislative Ethics Committee, which he had allegedly never received.

Bruno said the allegations were nonsense and that he had filed everything he had been required to submit.

Bruno maintained that he had every right to conduct outside business as a part-time legislator and that he had been selectively targeted with this investigation by political enemies who were “trying to make a career out of destroying him.”

If convicted, Bruno faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000 for each of the eight counts of the indictment.

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