US - Former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi has pleaded guilty to participating in a pay-to-play scandal while overseeing the $124.8bn New York State Common Retirement Fund.
Hevesi admitted to a second-degree charge of receiving reward for official misconduct and became the highest- ranking official convicted in a three-year investigation by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
As part of his guilty plea, Hevesi admitted he accepted nearly $1m in gifts - including $75,000 in travel expenses - from his friend Elliott Broidy, a principal of Markstone Capital Partners, as a reward for giving preferential treatment to their investment proposal.
Hevesi improperly favoured and ultimately approved $250m in pension fund investments to Markstone, resulting in the fund paying $18m in management fees to the company.
"Alan Hevesi presided over a culture of corruption and violated his oath as a public servant," said Attorney General Cuomo. "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."
Hevesi could face up to four years in prison for his crime, although his agreement to cooperate fully with Cuomo's investigation could see him go free.
Henry "Hank" Morris, Hevesi's former political consultant, is awaiting trial on charges of corrupting the investment process to benefit money managers who made campaign contributions and politically connected placement agents who received lucrative fees, including himself.
To date, Cuomo's investigation into these crimes has resulted in seven guilty pleas and has garnered $138m in recoveries for the state through agreements with fifteen firms and two individuals.
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