NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) —New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who promised to bring integrity to Albany when he was chosen to lead the legislative body this year, profited from the improper sale of an apartment his mother had bought with embezzled money, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
A string of legal lapses allowed Heastie to hold onto the Bronx apartment and sell it in 2005, even though a judge had ordered him to sell it in 1999, the year before Heastie first ran for office, the Times reported.
Heastie, 47, was selected speaker in February after the Assembly’s longtime leader, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges.
“We will change the cynicism into trust,” Heastie said then. “Our state deserves a government as good as its people.”
He defended his actions in a statement Tuesday, saying “a fair reading of the facts shows that I acted ethically and responsibly.” He added, “I followed the legal advice given by my mother’s attorney throughout the entire process.”
Heastie’s mother, Helene, pleaded guilty in 1998 to writing checks to herself from a nonprofit agency where she had worked.
When she was sentenced in 1999, she was ordered to sell the apartment, which she co-owned with her son, and relinquish the proceeds to her former employer.
Helene Heastie died three weeks after she was sentenced.
Carl Heastie owned the apartment for another six years and finally sold it in 2005, using the proceeds to buy a more expensive home.
Heastie said through a spokesman that his lawyer at the time told him his mother’s death had freed him from any obligation to sell the apartment.
But Duncan Levin, a former chief of asset forfeiture for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said Heastie was “sitting on stolen money” that prosecutors should have recovered during his mother’s criminal case or after her death.
A spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said the office is not planning any new investigation into the matter.
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