ALBANY, N.Y. -- Joseph Bruno, who was New York's top Republican as the state Senate majority leader, was accused in a federal indictment Friday of abusing his public position to enrich himself.
Bruno, who retired from the Legislature in July after more than a dozen years leading the Senate, was charged in an eight-count indictment by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York. He is accused of using his position to steer contracts and grants to businesses that paid him a total of $3.2 million in consulting fees or other compensation from 1993 through 2006.
Bruno exploited "his official position for personal compensation and enrichment" in dealing with companies and 16 unions with business before the state, according to the indictment.
Bruno pleaded not guilty during a brief court appearance Friday. He deflected questions from reporters but planned to hold a news conference later in the day.
The indictment follows a federal investigation that has lasted three years. The indictment accuses Bruno of failing to provide the honest services required of a public official. He is accused of entering into a web of business relationships that enriched him and theat he kept concealed.
In one example, Bruno is accused of soliciting officials of multiple labor unions to hire Wright Investment Services as their financial adviser even as he was paid $1.3 million from Wright.
Bruno represented his Troy, N.Y.-area district for 32 years. He seized power in the Senate by staging a Thanksgiving Day coup in 1994 with the consent of George Pataki, who had just been elected governor. Bruno became the most powerful Republican in state government when Elliot Spitzer succeeded Pataki.
Bruno, who grew up in poverty in Glens Falls north of Albany, worked his way through college and eventually became a top executive in a private telecommunications company. The sale of the company in 1990 and other business dealings had made him a millionaire. He subsequently started a consulting company and dabbled in horse breeding on his sprawling Rensselaer County farm a 25-minute drive from the state Capitol.
After his retirement, Bruno became chief executive officer of CMA Consulting Services. CMA, an information technology consulting business based in the Albany County suburb of Latham, is headed by Kay McCabe Stafford, the widow of Republican Sen. Ronald Stafford.