Former State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno was back in court Wednesday, arguing that he should not be re-tried by federal prosecutors after his 2009 conviction was thrown out following a Supreme Court ruling. After the hearing, he spoke with Bobby Cuza and as he explains, Bruno was quick to blast the government for continuing to pursue him.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- "I’m just praying to the good Lord that this ends now," Joe Bruno said.
This is the long-running legal case against Joe Bruno, long one of the most powerful men in New York, who led the state senate for 14 years. Then, in 2009, came federal corruption charges. Bruno was convicted of two counts.
"It goes without saying that I am very, very disappointed in the verdict," Bruno said in 2009.
He was sentenced to two years in prison, but never served time. His conviction was eventually reversed, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that called into question the statute under which he was convicted, known as theft of honest services. Now, prosecutors are seeking to re-try him, but Bruno and his attorney appeared before a federal appeals court Wednesday, arguing that amounts to double jeopardy, being tried for the same crime twice.
Bruno said, "They come back now and charged me for the second time. Which is clearly against the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."
Federal prosecutors argue there is clear precedent for a re-trial under these circumstances and have reformulated the charges against him. He is alleged to have taken kickbacks from a business associate, Jared Abbruzzese, in exchange for legislative favors. Bruno, for his part, suggests he’s been unfairly targeted by prosecutors.
"They put my life on hold. So I have been terribly disadvantaged. And you know, I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m a big boy. And I’m 84-years-old. So that proves I’m a big boy. And I want an end to this. I just want to get on with my life, that’s all," Bruno said.
This appeals court will now rule on the double jeopardy issue, though a decision could be weeks or even months away. Should they rule in Bruno’s favor, he’ll be free and clear of all charges. Otherwise, he’ll face a second trial, some four years after he was first indicted.