Former state comptroller Alan Hevesi is getting out of prison on parole, but his former aide Hank Morris was not so lucky. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman explains.
NEW YORK STATE -- Former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, the bookish politician whose fall from grace landed him in a state prison, is returning home. Hevesi pleaded guilty for his role in a massive pay-to-play pension fund scheme in 2011. Sentenced to one to four years in prison, Hevesi was granted parole on Thursday. He could be released as late as December 19.
“I agree the parole board made the right decision. I don't think there's any further purpose to his serving anymore time state and prison and I think Alan Hevesi ought to go home to his family,” said former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.
Republican John Faso ran against Hevesi for comptroller in 2002 and later the GOP nominee for governor against Eliot Spitzer. He says Hevesi's case is tragic, but unfortunately, won't be the last in a long-line of corruption scandals that have plagued state government.
Faso said, “I think it's fair to say that people will in the future do wrong things and the mere passage of laws to prevent something doesn't mean it won't happen in the future.”
In a parole hearing last year, Hevesi took full responsibility for a scheme that gave favored access for investment in the state's pension fund. At the center of it was his longtime political advisor, Hank Morris, who was sent to prison for the kickback scheme that landed him $19 million. Unlike his former boss, Morris on Thursday was denied parole.
“This was a very tragic situation and it's unfortunate that it happened. I'm still amazed at some of the things that went on,” Faso said.
While the public has focused on corruption cases within the state Legislature, the Hevesi case put a spotlight on another aspect of state government that had been largely ignored.
“People like to talk about the state legislature and maybe bills and pork, but this really expanded what's look at,” said NYPIRG Researcher Bill Mahoney.
For good-government advocates, whether the latest ethics watchdog, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, can deter other cases of fraud remains to be seen.
Mahoney said, “There's still no cop walking the beat. We're waiting to see how JCOPE handles things going forward. They're still very young so we don't know how well they'll work.”
Hevesi was comptroller from 2003 through 2006. He resigned following his re-election over an unrelated scandal involving his wife's use of a state driver for personal trips.