US - Former New York State comptroller Alan Hevesi has been sentenced to up to four years in prison for his role in a pay-to-play scandal while overseeing the $124.8bn New York State Common Retirement Fund.
Hevesi (pictured) received the one-to-four year term - the maximum sentence available by law - after admitting to a second-degree charge of receiving reward for official misconduct in October. He became the highest- ranking official convicted in a three-year investigation by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. (Global Pensions: 08 October 2010)
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.
"Today, Alan Hevesi was appropriately punished for abusing his position as New York's Comptroller," said Attorney General Schneiderman on Friday. "Hevesi brazenly sold access to New York Pension Fund investments-a betrayal of the public trust that went to the heart of his duties as comptroller. Today's sentencing decision will help achieve my office's principal objective of restoring New Yorkers' faith in their state government. I'd like to thank Governor Cuomo and his team in the Attorney General's Office for their work on this matter."
The sentencing decision was the second stemming from the investigation. Last month, Hevesi's former political advisor, Henry "Hank" Morris, received the maximum allowable sentence of one to four years in prison after pleading guilty to a Martin Act felony charge for his role in the pay-to-play scandal.
The investigation has resulted in eight guilty pleas to date. In addition to Hevesi and Morris, the Attorney General's Office secured guilty pleas from former chief investment officer David Loglisci; former Liberal Party chairman Raymond Harding; investment advisor Saul Meyer; hedge fund manager Barrett Wissman; unlicensed placement agent Julio Ramirez; and venture fund manager Elliott Broidy. These defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming months.
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