Albany corruption: Major misdeeds by New York State officials
Today's news out of Albany may be classified as a bombshell, but political corruption is nothing new in New York State. News Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious lists a dozen scandals over the last 30 years.
1. Manfred Ohrenstein, 1987. ... The Senate Democratic leader was indicted on 564 counts for directing more than two dozen Senate staffers to work on political campaigns while on state time. He was cleared when the stateu2019s top court said the practice was not explicitly illegal at the time, though the judges said it was still wrong to do. Left Senate in 1995 to practice law and lobby.
UPI file photo
2. Julio Martinez, 1989. ... He is on this list for the creativity in how he responded to getting in trouble on the job. Martinez, a former drug addict, rose to become head of the stateu2019s drug treatment agency in the 1980s, but he was forced to resign by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo amid allegations he steered contracts to friends. He did not walk away from the Capitol: Four months later, he opened a hot dog and kinish stand on the street just below the governoru2019s office. He called himself the Knishener. He later rejoined the state workforce; he died of cancer in 1999.
3. Sol Wachtler, 1992. ... The distinguished jurist was forced to resign as the state Court of Appeals chief judge following his arrest for stalking his ex-lover and threatening to kidnap the womanu2019s teenage daughter. Served 15 months in prison.
Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News
4. Ada Smith (no photo available), 2006. ... She makes the list for her reliable string of weird incidents while serving in the state Senate, including allegations she threatened a staffer with a knife, bit a copu2019s finger during a traffic stop, got slapped with a reckless driving charge following an incident at a Capitol parking garage and in 2006 was convicted of a misdemeanor for tossing a cup of hot coffee into the face of a staffer. A Democrat, she lost her 2006 re-election bid.
Getty Images file photo of Senate Chamber in Albany
5. Alan Hevesi, 2006. ... The longtime state lawmaker resigned as state comptroller in a plea deal in which he acknowledged using state funds to chauffeur his wife. Several years later, he pleaded guilty in a separate case, acknowledging that he was part of a pay-to-play plot while serving as state comptroller and also as head of the state's big government retirement system. Served 20 months in prison.
Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News
6. Eliot Spitzer, 2008. ... He captured a national following for his crime-busting ways while serving eight years as New York's attorney general. But he resigned as governor after less than 16 months in office following revelations that he was having sex with prostitutes. Runs a real estate business in New York City.
Derek Gee/Buffalo News
7. Pedro Espada, 2012. ... The brash and colorful Democratic state senator briefly became Senate majority leader during a chaotic political coup that shut down the chamber for a time. He is serving a five-year sentence following his conviction on charges he stole more than $400,000 from a non-profit health care group he headed in the Bronx.
8. Malcolm Smith, 2015. A Democrat, the former Senate Majority Leader is serving an 84-month sentence in a bizarre case in which he tried to bribe his way onto the ballot to run as a Republican in the New York Cityu2019s 2013 mayoral race. He offered bribes to a developer, who was cooperating with federal investigators, and an undercover FBI agent.
Buffalo News file photo
9. Sheldon Silver, 2015. ... The Lower East Side Democrat served as the all-powerful Speaker of the Assembly from 1994 until resigning following his arrest on corruption charges that included using his office to enrich himself. Found guilty in November on all seven counts. Automatically ousted from his Assembly post. Received a 12-year prison sentence that he has appealed.
10. Dean Skelos, 2015. ... Rose through the ranks of the Nassau County GOP machine politics and the state Senate to become in 2008 the Senate majority leader. He was found guilty in December 2015 on all eight counts of using his position to steer lucrative, barely-show jobs to his son, Adam, with companies doing business before the state. Automatically ousted from his Senate job. Has appealed.
11. G. Steven Pigeon, 2016. ... The statewide political operative and former Erie County Democratic chairman was indicted on nine counts of bribery and extortion by a special grand jury convened by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on June 30. Former State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek was also indicted on the same day on bribery related charges involving Pigeon, and resigned from the bench.
Derek Gee/Buffalo News
12. Louis Ciminelli, 2016. ... Leader of LPCiminelli, a Buffalo Billion general contractor, is among nine facing charges, as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed a criminal complaint in a sweeping corruption case that accuses the major Buffalo Billion economic development contract of being tainted by allegations of bid-rigging and bribes. Also facing various federal corruption counts in different matters are Joseph Percoco, one of Gov. Andrew Cuomou2019s longest and closest former advisors; and SUNY Polytechnic boss Alain Kaloyeros.