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On June 17, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the arguments in the case of former state Senate Majority leader Joseph Bruno on the issue of is conviction on honest services mail fraud.
According to the Times-Union, Bruno exploited his office as Senator and took $280,000 from Loudonville businessman Jared E. Abbruzzese between the years of 2004 and 2006. The payments were sham payments for services, the government said, including supposed payments for worthless items. In turn, Abbruzzese hoped, was that Bruno would send grant money to a company, Evident Technologies, in which Abbruzzese owned shares.
Abbruzzese hired Bruno for $20,000 a month as a consultant and several days later, Bruno authorized a $250,000 grant to Evident Technologies.
Bruno was convicted in 2009 on two counts of honest services mail fraud. At the time of his trial in 2009, he was also acquitted of five other honest services mail fraud counts, with a mistrial declared on one count after juror deadlock.
He was sentenced to twenty-four months in prison. As a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Jeffrey Skilling case, however, Bruno's case might get a second chance.
In Skilling's case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the honest services fraud statute did not apply to cases where the fraud involved was an undisclosed conflict of interest by the defendant. There must be evidence of quid pro quo, such as bribery.
Wrote the prosecutors in their appellate brief:
"A quid pro quo may be inferred from the close temporal relationship between Bruno's solicitation and receipt of payments from Abbruzzese, on the one hand, and Bruno's favorable treatment of Abbruzzese's interests, on the other hand."
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals will give twelve minutes to Bruno's defense team and to the federal prosecutors on the 17th at 10 a.m. at the Daniel P. Moynihan Courthouse in Manhattan.