With all the state lawmakers currently in trouble with the law, it's easy to forget the case against former senate majority leader Joe Bruno, but four years after he was first indicted, Bruno is still fighting corruption charges. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
The long-running legal case against Joe Bruno, once one of the most powerful men in New York, is still ongoing.
Bruno led the state Senate for 14 years. Then, in 2009, came federal corruption charges. Bruno was convicted of two counts.
"It goes without saying that I am very, very disappointed in the verdict that I just heard," Bruno said in 2009.
He was sentenced to two years in prison, but never served time. His conviction was eventually reversed thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that called into question the statute under which he was convicted, known as theft of honest services.
Now, prosecutors are seeking to re-try him, but Bruno and his attorney appeared before a federal appeals court Wednesday, arguing that a retrial amounts to double jeopardy, being tried for the same crime twice.
"They come back now and charged me for the second time, which is clearly against the fifth amendment of the Constitution of the United States," Bruno said.
Federal prosecutors argued that there is clear precedent for a re-trial under these circumstances, and have reformulated the charges against him. He is alleged to have taken kickbacks from a business associate, Jared Abbruzzese, in exchange for legislative favors.
Bruno, for his part, suggested he's been unfairly targeted by prosecutors.
"They put my life on hold, so I have been terribly disadvantaged," he said. "I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm a big boy. And I'm 84 years old, so that proves I'm a big boy. And I want an end to this. I just want to get on with my life. That's all."
The appeals court will now rule on the double jeopardy issue, though a decision could be weeks or even months away. Should they rule in Bruno’s favor, he'll be free and clear of all charges. Otherwise, he'll face a second trial, some four years after he was first indicted.