Michael A. Benjamin has sent you – Spring Valley: Desmaret gets 3 years for corruption – from lohud.com

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Spring Valley: Desmaret gets 3 years for corruption

Former Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret was sentenced Thursday to three years in federal prison for his part in a corruption scheme involving a proposal to build a village-owned catering hall on Route 45.

Check out this story on lohud.com: http://lohud.us/1MPpzdz

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BN: Heastie’s serious ethical lapses show he is not fit to lead the Assembly

In the heels of NY Times muckraking, the Buffalo News castigates State Assembly Democrats for making Carl Heastie Speaker.

"This is who members of the State Assembly wanted as their leader? A member who plays fast and loose with his campaign account, who cheats a not-for-profit agency out of money his family swindled from it, who makes himself a flashing red target for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara? Are they kidding?"

Read more: http://mobile.buffalonews.com/?articleRedirect=1

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De Blasio’s door is open to lobbyists | New York Post

According to the NY Post, Mayor de Blasio has met personally with a dozen lobbyists so far this year — most of them campaign supporters and just two shy of the 14 he huddled with in all of 2014, records show.

Leading the pack was last year’s highest-earning city lobbyist, James Capalino, who met with Hizzoner three times in the last three months.

Other lobbyists/campaign supporters who met Hizzoner privately included Michael Woloz, who bundled nearly $237,000 for his campaign on behalf of the yellow-cab industry but who met with him on a doctors-union labor issue on Feb. 2.


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State reimburses mileage for senators’ campaign-funded cars – Newsday

Newsday’s Michael Gormley finds that LI state senators may have double-dipped in using campaign-funded cars to commute to Albany while collecting thousands of dollars in state-funded mileage reimbursements.

Gormley writes:

"The campaign committees of at least 12 Republican senators statewide, including four from Long Island, pay to lease or purchase automobiles for the legislators while the senators collect state mileage reimbursement under a legally murky practice.

This nexus of campaign-paid vehicles and taxpayer-paid travel reimbursements for trips to and from Albany for legislative work has prompted an investigation within Nassau County by the acting district attorney and drawn criticism from good-government groups and a state corruption commission.

The practice appears largely confined to the State Senate’s Republican majority. State records didn’t show similar spending by Senate Democrats, and Assembly members aren’t allowed to collect reimbursement for vehicles funded by their campaigns."

More here:


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Harlem Assemblyman Wright To Announce For Congress Today

Joined by family, friends and respected clergy, New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright will announce his candidacy for New York’s 13thCongressional seat.


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Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, linked to Dean Skelos probe, benefitted from state budget move – Newsday

Newsday is reporting that "state lawmakers tucked into this year’s state budget an extension of a law that grants a significant benefit to medical malpractice insurance companies operating in the red, such as Roslyn-based Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a company linked to the federal probe of Sen. Dean Skelos.

The provision prevents the state Department of Financial Services from liquidating medical malpractice insurers that have a negative balance. It has been in place for more than a decade, renewed every few years and was set to expire in 2016, according to several sources and state documents. But in March, lawmakers took the unusual step of inserting the renewal in the state budget, a year before its slated expiration.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn’t include the malpractice provision in his original budget proposal, but the Republican-led Senate and the Democrat-controlled Assembly both did."

"Physicians Reciprocal, like other large companies in New York, contracts with a number of heavy-hitting lobby firms, including two that are tied to the environmental firm in the Skelos probe.

State lobby records show Bonomo’s company hired The Capitol Group and Brian Meara, companies that also represented an affiliate of AbTech, the Arizona-based environmental firm linked to the Skelos investigation. Physicians Reciprocal also hired Park Strategies, a firm led by former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato."


Should legislation involving lawmakers accused of wrongdoing be subject to review and if found to be the fruit of corrupt practices be declared null and void, ie, repealed?

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Capitol Confidential » Read: Bonomo takes ‘leave of absence’ from NYRA

US Attorney Preet Bharara’s war on Albany’s culture of corruption has claimed another casualty:

Anthony Bonomo is taking a leave of absence — effective immediately — as the chairman of the board of the New York Racing Association less than a week after his company was revealed to have provided an alleged “no-show” job to the son of former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.


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Capitol Confidential » Espada crosses line, does not pass go

Rick Larking of the Albany Times Union reports,

"Disgraced former state Senator Pedro Espada Jr. is back in New York State, after he reportedly stepped over the line in the minimum security prison where he had been residing in Pennsylvania.

Literally stepped over the line.

The one-time Democratic Senate Majority Leader had until nine months ago been in the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institute in Pennsylvania.

That’s where he was serving a five-year sentence for embezzling money from the Soundview health care network he had set up in the Bronx.

But he is now in the federal Bureau of Prison’s Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Federal prison officials don’t comment on inmates or their disciplinary status.

Espada couldn’t immediately be reached in the prison.

But according to a person familiar with the case, Espada was caught walking beyond the boundary of the fenceless minimum security unit in Pennsylvania.
Whether or not it was an outright escape attempt or not remained unclear but it resulted in his being sent to the Brooklyn facility."


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Bronx Chronicle: Bx DA Indicts Former Assembly Candidate

On Tuesday, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson arrested former Assembly candidate Hector Ramirez along with another individual, Ana Cuevas. They were arraigned, entered pleas of not guilty, and were released on personal recognizance bonds of $25,000 and $10,000, respectively, on Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Ramirez was represented by attorney Angel Cruz and Ms. Cuevas was represented by Larry Sheehan.

The charges are related to the 2014 race in the 86th AD where Ramirez was accused of election fraud involving absentee ballots. Ramirez was narrowly defeated by the incumbent Assemblyman Victor Pichard. Pichardo won 86th Assembly District Democratic primary in a Bronx Board of Elections supervised manual recount by TWO votes over two-time challenger Hector Ramirez.

Hector Ramirez​ and Ana Cuevas (Ramirez’s campaign manager in 2014), were indicted on seven counts for each allegedly false instrument submitted to The Board of Elections in the City of New York​ totaling 242 counts involving absentee ballots and applications for some 32-35 persons, some of whom were not eligible to vote.

The counts are forgery in the second degree, criminal possession of forged instruments in the second degree, falsifying business records in the first degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree,tampering with public records in the first degree, and two separate counts of illegal voting. The duo are accused of acting in concert in falsifying and submitting fraudulent absentee ballot applications and ballots bearing the names of voters between August 14 and primary day, September 9, 2014 and inducing ineligible persons to vote in that primary.

[Read the complete story here]

The indictment is here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/265940256/Indictment-Ramirez-Hector-Cuevas-Ana-Redacted

Michael Benjamin is a columnist and blogger as well as a former state legislator who represented the 79 AD, 2003-2010.

Follow him athttp://CorruptionCrusher.com/;Twitter:@SquarePegDem; andwww.Facebook.com/SquarePegDem;www.YouTube.com/SquarePegDem; on Skype:SquarePegDem

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Matt Libous Sentenced to Six Months In Prison

Matthew Libous, son of powerful state Sen. Thomas Libous, was sentenced to six months in prison, $25k fine, 100 hrs community service on federal tax-fraud charges after being found guilty in January, Gannett Albany reports:

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