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Cuomo Unveils Bills For Harsher Punishments Of Public Corruption

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed Tuesday a so-called Public Trust Act that includes giving district attorneys the ability to prosecute state-level corruption and making failure to report public corruption a misdemeanor. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

After two high profile corruption cases rocked the city and state last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping to act quickly.

"New York State has a zero tolerance for public trust violations," Cuomo said. "The people demand nothing less. That is the way it must be and that is the way it will be."

Cuomo wants to expand the state's bribery statute, enact for the first time penalties for failing to report corruption, increase penalties for public corruption and institute a lifetime ban from government for those who are convicted.

"The substantive law changes, as in changing the law of bribery, is an example of how we are really lining up under the governor's proposal, state law to federal law," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

But while local district attorneys would be empowered under the governor's proposal, the state attorney general would not be granted new authority such as subpoena power in corruption cases. Cuomo had sought greater powers for the attorney general when he served in that position.

"This is step one for us. We are looking at criminal laws and district attorneys, as you know, are primarily the people charged with criminal enforcement," Cuomo said. "We are going to be looking at other areas going forward."

The governor also wants to consider a pay increase for lawmakers, who are technically only part time legislators.

"When you have a part time legislature, you pose many more potential conflicts," Cuomo said. "People are practicing law. They have clients. Clients have an interest before government."

According to the Bronx District Attorney, former Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who cooperated with federal authorities by wearing a wire, will be indicted tomorrow.

Cuomo will introduce and push for the law changes as part of a broader reform package that will include campaign finance reform and the possible repeal of Wilson-Pakula, which enables cross-party endorsements.

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