Tuesday, October 06, 2009

NYS Pension Pay To Play Scandal Nets A Plea Deal

Ray Harding entered a guilty plea to taking $800,000 in pay to play fees in connection with New York's pension mess.
Ray Harding, who quietly registered as a financial broker several years ago, admitted in Manhattan Supreme Court he got the money as a "reward" for his support of former state Controller Alan Hevesi.

Harding said Hank Morris, Hevesi's political guru, made him a middleman on some deals so he could reap the fees.

"This is a fatally flawed system and it is a corrupted system," said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who noted there have been pension fund abuses for 30 years under a number of controllers.

"The old adage is, 'Follow the money.' The money in New York state is the pension fund. If you're looking for corruption, follow the money. It will lead you to the ... state controller's office."

Harding, 74, who faces up to four years in jail, has agreed to cooperate in Cuomo's ongoing probe of the pension system.

Prosecutors said he could be spared jail time and keep his law license if he cooperates fully.
Sorry, but I think Harding would get off lightly if he's able to continue practicing law and avoid jail time if he cooperates with authorities. At a minimum, he should lose the law license, precisely because he violated state ethics and criminal law. Harding is expected to turn state's evidence on Hank Morris and other figures involved in the huge scandal that began during Alan Hevesi's turn as comptroller. Another person implicated in the scandal, investment adviser Saul Meyer also pleaded guilty to paying Morris $300,000 in kickbacks.

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