Out of the Closet
And Into the Cooler
And Into the Cooler
The forces of good scored a major victory in the indictment of State Senator Carl Kruger, Assemblyman William Boyland and six accomplices in a bribery ring that goes back five years.
Until now, corrupt legislators had been picked off by the authorities one at a time, and their venality, although felonious, was relatively limited in its scope. This time a big fish has been nabbed, along with his bottom feeder associates.
The investigation was helped over the years by co-operating public officials seeking lighter sentences. Brian McLaughlin was the first to go; he gave up the late Anthony Seminerio, who was taped in expletive-laced conversations with Kruger's confederates.
We wonder how many more legislators, particularly from Brooklyn and Queens, are shivering at the prospect of future undesired contact with law enforcement agencies. The Aqueduct casino conspiracy of 2010, although well publicized, has not yet led to indictments. Since the plot was foiled, there may be insufficient grounds to send the plotters upstate. If they should be incarcerated, however, they will be counted as residents of their home districts downstate, thanks to their Democratic colleagues in the legislature who wanted to minimize Republican districts upstate.
The daily press gave substantial and well-merited attention to the arrests, which we do not need to retreat. We will, however, provide links which will inform you of the accusations, and articles about the case:
First is the 53-page criminal complaint, obtained by Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a position formerly held by Robert Morgenthau and Rudy Giuliani. Note the intercepted telephone conversations (p22 et seq.) between the alleged conspirators, including an Assemblymember who died in prison.
Among the other published accounts of the defendants' activities, both criminal and extra-curricular, are:
GAY POL'S $1 MIL "BRIBE" OUT-RAGE by Bruce Golding, Rich Calder and Dan Mangan (Post)
STATE SEN. CARL KRUGER AND ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM BOYLAND SURRENDER TO FEDS TO FACE BRIBE RAP by Scott Shifrel and Greg B. Smith (Daily News)
GRAFT CHARGES DEPICT KRUGER'S LAVISH LIFESTYLE by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Barbaro (New York Times)
ABOUT THAT CARL KRUGER CASH by Celeste Katz (Daily News)
THE ALBANY RACKETS (Editorial - Post)
INDICTED STATE SEN. KRUGER IS THE POSTER BOY FOR SLEAZE THAT AFFLICTS NEW YORK'S LEGISLATURE (Editorial - Daily News)
For nine years, we have railed against public corruption, starting with former Councilman Angel Rodriguez in our first column (3/21/02). Whenever one wrongdoer is found out, however, it seems that another rises to take his or her place. The system is remarkably enduring.
We believe that most public officials are honest and decent. Unfortunately, many are held in low regard because of the derelictions of their colleagues. It is also true that very few officials are concerned with the misconduct of their fellow legislators, they are much more comfortable ignoring fraud or corruption by their next door neighbors and running mates. These don't commit crimes themselves, but they are quite tolerant of those who do. There is no honor code in Albany.
Most New Yorkers are relatively satisfied with the people who represent them. This is in part because over the years they have received publicly-funded mailings or relied on constituent services. They may have met their local representative in the park.on the street, or in a church or synagogue. Voters may identify by gender, orientation or ethnicity with the name they see on election posters.
In addition, challengers to politicians are usually even less well known than the incumbents. That is why the re-election rate is so high, and why legislators have more to fear from prosecutors than from electoral rivals.
Nonetheless, the indictments are good news. We are aware that an indictment is merely an accusation, and a jury must be convinced of the defendants' guilt. Kruger has hired a fine lawyer in Benjamin Brafman, who while representing him will no doubt divest his client of a good portion of his allegedly ill-gotten gains.
We suggest you read as much as you care to of the US Attorney's complaint, and particularly the transcripts of the defendants' telephone conversations. A reasonable person would be hard pressed to develop a scenario under which the alleged conspirators would not be at fault.
It will probably take over a year before this matter is disposed of. We have on occasion quoted an old Greek saying, which was rendered in English in 1640 by George Herbert: "The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine."
Let justice be done.