While we now know the verdict in the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, there are still many details that have to be figured out. Our Steve Ference has covered the case from the beginning and brings us the latest on sentencing, how the honest services law Bruno was convicted of breaking is being looked at by the Supreme Court, and what officials who brought the case against Bruno are saying.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "It goes without saying that I'm very, very disappointed in the verdict that I just heard," said Joe Bruno outside the federal courthouse on Monday.
After being convicted on two of eight counts of failing to disclose potential conflicts of interests and depriving New Yorkers of their right to his honest services, Joe Bruno said very little - though he's been critical of the case from the start.
Bruno said, "In my mind and in my heart, it's not over 'til it's over."
Only one day after Bruno learned of the jury's decision, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases involving the same honest services statute at the center of his trial. One involves an Alaska legislator, and the other a newspaper executive. A third case involving an Enron executive will be heard next year, as justices look at whether the law is too vague and could lead to abuse.
But after a three-year investigation, the FBI, believing their case to be solid, released a statement saying, "The FBI is proud of the efforts of its special agents and analysts in conducting this complicated and difficult investigation and is appreciative of the efforts of the US Attorneys Office in successfully prosecuting this case. The FBI has directed substantial resources to routing out public corruption in the Capital Region and will continue to pursue these systemic violations of the public trust."
"Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether to limit honest services law or throw it out entirely," said legal expert Paul DerOhannesian, who said a key point is whether there should be an underlying state crime before the federal honest services law is applied. Prosecutors didn't have to prove there was an underlying state crime committed by Bruno.
DerOhannesian said, "You have to remember the defense asked to delay this trial pending the decision of the Supreme Court for cases argued in December. That wasn't done."
That leaves a number of options. The whole statute could be thrown out, meaning Bruno's conviction could be too. Or the Supreme Court could give a narrow opinion, which may or may not impact Bruno's conviction. Or they could simply keep the law as is.
Of course, timing is key. We could get any decisions from the Supreme Court as early as after they hear the three cases, or we may have to wait until next summer.
Bruno said, "I think it's far from over."
Sentencing is scheduled for March 31. The judge will decide how much money Bruno may have to forfeit. He could also face prison time. That would be figured out during sentencing, though, because of complicated federal guidelines, it's unclear how much time he could get, if any.
Meanwhile, Bruno resigned as CEO of CMA Consulting Services in Latham, effective immediately.