Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno could face fines of up 20 years in prison and $250,000 for each of two felonies he was convicted of yesterday, but he’ll always have his pension payment of $93,549 a year.
The New York constitution states that pensions cannot be diminished, even if public officials have been convicted of crimes, according to the state Comptroller’s Office. Bruno had 40 years of credit in the pension system when he retired in 2008, including 32 with the Senate.
Bruno, a Rensselaer County Republican, was majority leader from 1995 until mid-2008. His base salary was $79,500 and he was paid $41,500 for his leadership job, for a total of $121,000.
The issue of keeping one’s pension came up after now-former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi resigned in December 2006. He pleaded guilty to defrauding state government because he had used public employees to chauffeur and run errands for his wife.
A federal jury found Bruno guilty yesterday of two of eight charges of mail and wire fraud connected with nearly $3.2 million he received from groups of individuals and related entities that had business with the state or were seeking contracts. On one charge, jurors could not reach a verdict, and they found Bruno not guilty on the other five.
Bruno has maintained he is innocent on all charges and said yesterday that the court battle would continue.