Ex-N.Y. Official Sentenced To At Least One Year In Pay-To-Play Case

Apr 15 2011 | 12:40pm ET

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 at the state's main public pension plan, one that ensnared several high-profile alternative investment firms.

Hevesi pleaded guilty in October to official corruption, admitting that he approved a $250 million investment by the New York State Common Retirement Fund in private equity firm Markstone Capital Group in exchange for $1 million in benefits from that firm's then-chairman, Elliott Broidy.

With good behavior, Hevesi could be out of jail in less than a year. But he could also spend just as much time—if not more—behind bars than his former lieutenant, Henry Morris, who admitted to being the ringleader of the scam and who was sentenced to 16 months to four years.

New York State Justice Michael Obus imposed the sentence on Hevesi despite pleas for mercy that pointed to the 71-year-old's long career in public service, including a stint as New York City Comptroller, his ill-health and the fact that he did not benefit much personally from the scam, unlike Morris and several others.

"I don't think it's an exaggeration to suggest to your honor that a prison sentence of Mr. Hevesi, with his medical conditions, could possibly be a death sentence for him," Hevesi's lawyer, Bradley Simon, said.

Obus was unmoved. "When a person in [Hevesi's] situation violates [the public's] trust, the damage, though not easily quantifiable, is quite profound."

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