Hevesi pleads guilty to taking $1M in illegal gifts

Hevesi pleads guilty to taking $1M in illegal gifts
By Howard Koplowitz

Disgraced ex-comptroller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving $1 million in gifts in exchange for state pension business as part of a year-long probe into corruption of his office, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.

During his arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court, Hevesi, a Forest Hills resident and former assemblyman, admitted that he directed $250 million in pension funds to be invested with the private equity firm Markstone Capital Partners in exchange for $1 million in gifts, including $500,000 in campaign contributions and $75,000 for five trips to Italy and Israel, Cuomo said.

Hevesi, who faces up to four years in prison plus fines, was released in his own recognizance after turning in his passport earlier in the day.

“Alan Hevesi presided over a culture of corruption and violated his oath as a public servant,” Cuomo said in a statement.  “He was solely charged with protecting our pension fund, but he exploited it for his personal benefit instead.  With his guilty plea, we can now focus on the process of restoring public trust in government.”

The attorney general said Hevesi’s sons, state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and former state Sen. Daniel Hevesi, as well as officials in the former comptroller’s office accompanied Hevesi on the trips.

Hevesi admitted that Eliot Broidy, who managed Markstone, was “a friend of mine and political fund-raiser for my campaign” and that he “sought to help Broidy in his efforts to market Markstone by encouraging other public pension funds to invest in Markstone.”

Hevesi also admitted that his political adviser and campaign manager, Hank Morris, arranged for Broidy “to enter into a sham consulting agreement with a lobbyist friend of Morris who was a political supporter of mine, pursuant to which Broidy paid or caused to be paid in excess of $380,000 to the lobbyist over a period of more than two years.”

Hevesi said from June 2003 to August 2006, Broidy “made or arranged in excess of $500,000 in campaign contributions as directed by me or my campaign staff.”

The former comptroller also acknowledged the corruption began in January 2003 until December 2006, when he resigned his post after he was found to have misused a state driver to chauffeur his ailing wife.

Cuomo began issuing subpoenas in May 2009 to investment firms and their placement agents in connection with pension investments after he discovered that up to half of the agents were unlicensed to secure investments with state and city pension funds.

Hevesi is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 16.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.