Preet Bharara

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Another sitting state legislator, Sen. Rob Ortt, has been indicted on corruption charges, along with George Maziarz, who held the western New York Senate seat before him. The indictments come as ethics reform proposals in the state budget are faltering.

Ortt is accused of creating a no-show job for his wife to pad his own salary while he was mayor of North Tonawanda in Niagara County.

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Now that Preet Bharara is no longer the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York, some in Albany wonder who will investigate potential corruption now.

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An ethics reform proposal quietly circulated between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders for a possible special session that also could include a pay raise is getting blasted by the state’s attorney general as possibly unconstitutional.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is bringing charges against a former portfolio manager in the state’s pension fund, saying he accepted bribes — that included prostitutes and illegal drugs —from two hedge fund brokers.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Talks between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are still continuing over whether to hold a special session before the holidays — and the clock is ticking.

State lawmakers are still deliberating over whether to hold a special session in December that could, in part, give themselves a pay raise. The salary increase also could extend to Cuomo and his top commissioners.

It would be the first pay hike granted in 17 years for lawmakers, who make a base salary of $79,500.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, speaking Thursday at a panel on corruption in state government at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, took a shot at some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's actions.

Bharara, without mentioning Cuomo by name, seemed to criticize the governor’s actions. He said with the recent crime wave sweeping state government that’s led to Bharara’s successful prosecution of the former leaders of the Legislature, some recent actions have been inappropriate.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said much of the responsibility for the alleged corruption scandal touching his administration is on the state university system, specifically SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which oversaw many of the contracts.

But reform groups say the governor is not telling the whole story.

Cuomo has made a few public appearances since U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued criminal complaints against nine people, including several close to Cuomo and two major upstate real estate developers.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is distancing himself from the corruption scandal within his administration and placing the blame on others. But some say Cuomo might be better off making some changes instead.

Cuomo has made a number of public appearances across the state, continuing to promote economic development efforts, just as he did before U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged several of Cuomo’s former close associates and two major real estate developers with bribery and fraud in connection with the Buffalo Billion and other projects.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

A former Cuomo administration official is among eight individuals named in a criminal complaint by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and accused of carrying out kickback and bribery schemes over a period of several years. Many of those illegal acts, the complaint alleges, involve the governor’s much touted upstate economic development programs, including the Buffalo Billion.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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. 

governorandrewcuomo

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.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

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.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News File Photo

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.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

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.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

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.

Matt Ryan / New York Now File Photo

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.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

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.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

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.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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.”

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

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.

Matt Ryan / New York Now File Photo

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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