Just weeks away from his second federal corruption trial, former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said he’s feeling well and eagerly awaiting his day in court.
“I’m looking forward to getting it behind me,” he said in an interview Wednesday morning with Fred Dicker on Talk 1300 Radio. “It’s been hanging over my head for seven or eight years.”
Bruno, who turns 85 next week, is to go on trial May 5 in U.S. District Court in Albany on two counts of honest services fraud.
In one of only very few interviews since he underwent surgery for kidney cancer in September, the Rensselaer County Republican said he’s feeling well. The trial originally planned for last November was postponed because of his surgery.
“I’m extremely well, thank the good Lord,” said Bruno, who resigned from office in 2008 amid an FBI investigation of his business dealings.
He said about a third of one of his kidneys was removed during the surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and he will continue to have follow-ups there for three more years.
Bruno, of Brunswick, served 32 years in the state Senate and was its majority leader from 1994 to 2008. Many people credit him with steering hundreds of millions of state dollars into economic development in the Capital Region, including investments in new airport and rail facilities, and with laying the groundwork for GlobalFoundries to come to Malta.
Bruno was tried in 2009 on eight federal fraud charges involving $3 million in outside income he earned while Senate leader, but was convicted on only two charges.
Those convictions were overturned after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling redefined the evidence standard for honest services fraud. Prosecutors last year got a new indictment based on the earlier convictions. They said the indictment meets the new standard.
Bruno is accused of receiving $440,000 in undisclosed business consulting and other payments from wealthy friend Jared Abbruzzese while companies owned by Abbruzzese had business pending before state government, payments that prosecutors say amounted to bribes.
Bruno’s lawyers, E. Stewart Jones and William Dreyer, argued the new indictment constituted double jeopardy, but lost their appeal, clearing the way for the trial to take place.
Bruno continues to contend he was a part-time senator, entitled to earn outside income from business consulting.
“I ran for the Legislature because it was part time,” he said in the interview. “I had a business and ran because it was part time.”
Bruno owned a telephone systems company at the time.