2nd big bribery scandal rocks New York -- this week alone

Two New York legislators have been charged with taking bribes to grease the wheels for four men who wanted to open senior centers in the Bronx -- just days after six other politicians were arrested in a separate graft case.
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

Two New York legislators have been charged with taking bribes to grease the wheels for four men who wanted to open senior centers in the Bronx -- just days after six other politicians were arrested in a separate graft case.

In the latest stain on state government, Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson is accused of pocketing envelopes with thousands in cash and promising to pull strings -- and even pass a new law -- during meetings at a steakhouse, a diner and a hotel over the last year.

A second state lawmaker was charged in a sealed federal indictment but not named because he is cooperating with federal prosecutors -- who also had help from an informant who served as a go-between for the pols and the businessmen, according to court documents.

Stevenson's district office said he had no comment on a criminal complaint that detailed how he allegedly agreed to use his influence with a utility company and the city Buildings Department to expedite plans to open two adult day-care centers.

He was captured on tape making a deal to draw up legislation that would impose a moratorium on new centers, effectively blocking any competition for the gang of four, the complaint says.

"You can write down the language, basically what you want," he allegedly told the informant.

Stevenson, a Democrat serving his second term, was caught talking about the payoffs on tape, prosecutors said.

"Are they putting together a nice little package for me?" he asked the wired-up informant on Dec. 27, going on to discuss his expenses. "I got my inauguration...I gotta feed all the people."

Despite the indiscretions, Stevenson was apparently aware that authorities could be monitoring him. He warned about "recorders" and refused to accept cash in a restaurant where he spotted surveillance cameras, waiting until he was outside to put the padded envelope in his front pocket, the complaint said.

During the Dec. 27 rendezvous, Stevenson and the informant chatted about a rogue's gallery of state legislators who ended up in jail on corruption charges -- and how pervasive misdeeds are in the capital, according to the court papers.

"Bottom line, if the people up here in Albany was ever caught for what they do, they would probably be in the same place," he was quoted as saying, discussing how former state controller Alan Hevesi had aged while locked up.

One person who might agree is Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who earlier this week decried that "a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government."

The remark came after Bharara's office charged a state senator, a city councilman and four others with a bribery scheme aimed at buying a slot on the GOP ballot for mayor of New York City.
 
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