ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara has taken his anti-corruption fight to Albany, the heart of the state government he has sharply criticized for cronyism and insider politics.
The U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District, based in Manhattan, on Monday told the state’s Conference of Mayors that corruption undermines democracy and that aggressive prosecution is needed to repair “a political system that has broken down.”
Bharara later joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other leaders for the swearing in of the state’s new chief judge, Janet DiFiore.
Last year, Bharara’s office successfully prosecuted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and former Senate Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, who were convicted of unrelated corruption charges.
Prosecutors alleged that Silver devised schemes to collect millions of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for using his office to support a cancer researcher and real estate developers. In closing arguments at his trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein detailed one quid-pro-quo deal in which he said Dr. Robert Taub steered his patients with cancer caused by asbestos to Silver’s law firm, allowing the powerful Democrat and lawyer to secure more than $3 million in referral fees from lucrative personal injury claims.
Skelos was accused of using his office to extort about $300,000 in salary and other benefits for his son, Adam Skelos, who was also convicted Prosecutors also alleged Skelos accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers in exchange for political favors.
Bharara’s office has also investigated Cuomo’s handling of an anti-corruption Moreland Commission, though the probe found insufficient evidence of a crime.
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