Justice was served last Friday in the case of former Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. In December 2009, the former dean of the Senate was acquitted on five charges of bribery but convicted on two charges of "theft of honest services." Soon after, those convictions were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The government then promptly recharged Bruno for bribery and turned aside arguments that such prosecution would constitute double jeopardy. Prosecutors cited no new evidence.
Legal authorities such as Judge Andrew Napolitano argued that the new charges should not be brought against the 85 year old Bruno, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.
In fact, the case should never have been retried. PoliticsNY.net publisher Michael Caputo wrote the definitive on Bruno’s legal odyssey in which the government spent $30 million in an attempt to convict him. Bruno boldly turned down a plea bargain in which he would plead guilty to one count and would receive no jail-time. Bruno refused, insisting that he had broken no laws and would not say he had. The nine-year legal battle has ruined Bruno financially; he was forced to sell his home and beloved horses to fund his legal defense.
Last week, Bruno was acquitted on all charges after a brilliant defense by attorneys E. Stewart Jones and William Dryer. Justice has been done for one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Bruno, interestingly, not only looked out zealously for upstate interests, he was also a strong legislative ally of New York City.
Bruno knew how to reach across the aisle and nurture relationships with individual Democrats in order to get the people’s business done. He brought an authentic businessman’s viewpoint to government - it wasn't just talk. All of his financial disclosures and actions were approved in advance by legal counsel and he never violated his oath of office.
Joe Bruno is a fighter. A lesser man would have folded under intense pressure. I never had a conversation with him in which he wasn’t optimistic about beating the charges and clearing his name. That makes his complete and total vindication even more sweet.
Now Bruno and his lawyers believe he is due compensation from the state because he was prosecuted in his capacity as Senate Majority Leader. I think he is entitled to this.