N.Y. state political officials charged in bribery racket

By Tom Hays And Michael Gormley

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 10 2011 9:18 p.m. MST

N.Y. State Sen. Carl Kruger of Brooklyn, left, enters FBI headquarters with his attorney Benjamin Brafman on Thursday.

Associated Press

NEW YORK — An influential New York state senator, an assemblyman and a well-known lobbyist were among eight people charged Thursday in what federal prosecutors called "a broad-based bribery racket" that lined the senator's pockets with more than $1 million.

A criminal complaint charges Sen. Carl Kruger and Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., both Brooklyn Democrats, and Manhattan-based lobbyist Richard Lipsky with two counts of conspiracy and one count of money laundering — the latest in a string of corruption cases to rock Albany.

Lipsky was accused of directing about $252,000 in lobbying fees into a bank account used by Kruger between 2007 and 2010 in exchange for the senator giving legislative support to Lipsky & Associates' clients. Among them were beer distributors concerned about pricing and local markets fighting to stop "superstores" from opening in the city.

During a search of Lipsky's home on Monday, agents recovered $106,000 in cash, including $4,000 in "crisp, large denomination bills in his suit pocket," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference in Manhattan.

"At its core, the complaint describes a broad-based bribery racket reflecting an unholy alliance of politicians, lobbyists and businessmen," Bharara said.

After Kruger, Boyland and Lipsky all surrendered to the FBI on Thursday, a judge released them without having to post bonds of up to $1 million — a condition sought by prosecutors.

Defense attorney Ben Brafman said Kruger had known for several months about the investigation and was eager to fight the charges. Attorneys for Boyland and Lipsky also denied any wrongdoing by their clients.

"Today's arrests again spotlight the failings of New York state government and highlight the urgent need for the Legislature to pass comprehensive ethics reform — now," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose top policy goal is a tougher ethics law.

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