Preet Bharara

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo had harsh words for the state’s comptroller, a fellow Democrat, over questions about the value of the state’s economic development programs.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has conducted audits raising questions about the value of some of the programs, saying there’s not enough documentation in some cases that New Yorkers are getting their money’s worth.

Cuomo, speaking Tuesday in Buffalo, struck back when asked about DiNapoli and others who suggest the programs should be redesigned.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to focus on positive actions in his public events in recent days as a federal investigation into his administration’s economic development programs continues. 

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SUNY Polytechnic

Until recently, Alain Kaloyeros, leader of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, has been the darling of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. But now, he’s one of the figures at the center of federal and state investigations into alleged pay-to-play schemes for economic development projects and is increasingly on the outs with the administration. 

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It’s been over a month since Gov. Andrew Cuomo hired a special investigator in response to a federal probe of his Buffalo Billion project and other economic development programs. But so far, no contract with that investigator, Bart Schwartz, has been released, and questions remain about what exactly he is investigating.

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The state legislature ends its session for the year on June 16, and expectations are low for any major pieces of legislation to be resolved before the adjournment, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration faces increasing scrutiny from the U.S. attorney over economic development projects.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a key vote on the next installment of the Buffalo Billion project is merely postponed, not canceled, and he denies that he’s feeling defensive about the widening federal probe of his administration’s economic development projects.

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Another once-powerful New York state politician has been sentenced to prison.

In federal court Thursday, Dean Skelos received five years for corruption; his son, Adam, got a 6½-year sentence.

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Former Senate Leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay over $334,000 in restitution after his conviction on corruption charges. His son Adam got 6 ½ years.

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Opponents of a planned fracked gas power plant in the Hudson Valley say they are hoping the U.S. attorney will investigate decisions made in the permitting process for the plan, now that it’s been revealed that the wife of a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo took payments from the lead engineering firm in the project, and that her husband is the subject of a federal probe.

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Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a federal judge Tuesday.

Over 100 family members, constituents and lobbyists wrote letters on behalf of the disgraced former Assembly speaker, Silver himself apologized in a letter, and his lawyers pleaded for mercy. Despite that, the judge, in addition to the prison time, ordered Silver to pay back $5 million he gained from illegal kickback schemes, as well as a $1.75 million fine.

Silver will be allowed to keep his public pension, along with an apartment and a house in the Catskills.

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Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison and told by a federal judge that he must give back $5 million that he gained from illegal kickback schemes, as well a pay another $1.75 million in fines.

Over 100 family members, constituents and lobbyists wrote letters on behalf of the disgraced former Assembly speaker, and the disgraced former speaker and his lawyers pleaded for mercy.

Dick Dadey, with the reform group Citizens Union, who waited outside the courtroom to hear the sentence, says it’s just desserts for what Silver did.

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The New York State Legislature has been on a three-week break. In their absence, federal investigations into aides close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have intensified, spurring even more calls for reform. Also, both former leaders of the legislature will be sentenced in the next few days on multiple felony convictions.

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Over the weekend, news broke that top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being probed by the U.S. attorney in connection with the Buffalo Billion economic development project.

The Buffalo Billion project is the centerpiece of Cuomo’s efforts to reverse decades of economic decline in New York’s second largest city. It’s been credited with helping spur jobs and new industries, including in high tech and the medical field.

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Government reform groups say you can add one more item to the long list of reforms that they believe are needed in Albany. They say limits are needed on campaign contributions to county political committees. The committees collection and distribution of money factor into a growing criminal case against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, and upstate Senate races in 2014.

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The U.S. Attorney who convicted both of the leaders of the legislature came to Albany Monday to speak to a conference of the state’s mayors. But Preet Bharara was not invited to the State Capitol itself, and he did not meet directly with any lawmakers, even though Bharara and Governor Cuomo attended the same event, the swearing in of the state’ new chief judge.

Bharara addressed mayors from all over the state, gathered for their annual meeting, where he told them the point of his anti-corruption work is to “protect democracy.”

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One day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, where he is expected to address ethics issues after the criminal convictions of the two legislative leaders, some state legislators are already demanding reforms that would break up the power of the leadership.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo received a bit of good news just two days before he’s to give his State of the State address. The governor and his office have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the premature closing of an ethics commission.

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2015 saw the fall of two of the three most powerful people in state government, and the rise of one U.S. Attorney. 

Less than a year ago, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Leader Dean Skelos led the legislature. They were both at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech on January 21, sitting on stage, where Cuomo acknowledged his partners in the government triumvirate.

“To a good year, Dean,” Cuomo said to applause from the assembled lawmakers and lobbyists in the cavernous auditorium. “It’s a pleasure to be with you, Mr. Speaker.”

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The second of the state legislature’s two former leaders has now been convicted on multiple corruption charges after a jury lost no time in finding former Senate Leader Dean Skelos and son Adam guilty on all eight counts.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to try to revise his role in creating the Moreland Commission. He now says the defunct commission was never intended to investigate or prosecute anyone.   

Early in December, Cuomo was asked about the Moreland Commission on government corruption that he created, and then ended. He said it was never supposed to actually probe suspected law breaking or accuse any state politicians of illegal acts.

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Sheldon Silver has been found guilty on all counts in a federal corruption trial. Silver was found guilty of operating several corrupt schemes in which he essentially monetized his powerful position as leader of the Assembly to illegally gain over $4 million. 

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Audio recordings released by the U.S. attorney’s office at the corruption trial of Sen. Dean Skelos aim to show that the former Senate leader and his son colluded to use Dean Skelos' official position to help his son get employment, in what turned out to be a succession of no-show jobs. But the phone recordings paint a revealing picture about how Albany really works behind the scenes.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing questions about the ongoing federal probe of contracts associated with his Buffalo Billion economic development project, was reluctant to say much about the progress of the investigation.

Cuomo was asked by journalists whether he or anyone on his staff has been questioned or subpoenaed by federal prosecutors looking into the awarding of state contracts as part of the massive economic development protect in western New York.

“I have not,” said Cuomo. “But I don’t want to get into commenting on the U.S. Attorney’s investigation.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in an address before the state’s business leaders,  promoted his economic development plans, including the Buffalo Billion initiative, and fended off questions on reports that some of the projects are under investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

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Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who turned himself in to federal authorities on corruption charges Monday, will remain as the head of the Senate, his republican members announced after a more than three hour closed door meeting Monday night.

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The leader of the New York State Senate, Dean Skelos, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and was charged with six counts of corruption, including bribery and extortion, in connection with an alleged scheme that used his political position to enrich himself and his son.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The New York state legislature returns for the second half of the legislative session, once again under a cloud of corruption, and with numerous unsettled issues.

The session begins Tuesday, after the spring break, and this time it’s the leader of the Senate who is the focus of a federal corruption probe. State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos confirmed that he’s the target of an investigation, after The New York Times reported that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has convened a grand jury that is looking into some of the senator’s business dealings, as well as those of his son.

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Former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted Thursday on federal fraud and extortion charges. Silver was arrested in January and charged with taking nearly $4 million in kickbacks. 

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Once the President’s Day week-long break is finished, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature will have to start discussing the 2015 budget.  But the traditional style of budget making in New York, known as “Three Men in a Room,” is coming under criticism, by among others, the U.S. Attorney currently investigating corruption at the Capitol. Some are wondering whether it’s time to end the secretive practice.

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested Thursday morning and $3.8 million in eight different bank accounts held by Silver have been frozen, as federal prosecutors accuse the speaker of running two fraudulent and corrupt schemes.

Silver was released on $200,000 bail Thursday afternoon.

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