After being found not guilty of federal corruption charges, former state Senate majority leader Joe Bruno is looking to have his legal fees — which he says total more than $4 million — reimbursed.
Bruno is calling on state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to compensate him for “what is legally due” and to “just obey the law.” He said he believes his legal fees have exceeded $4 million.
“The Public Officers Law is very clear. I want what is legally due me,” Bruno said on a Talk 1300 Radio show Monday morning. “I don’t want to fight about it. I am hoping they don’t make this partisan or political.”
On Friday, Bruno was acquitted on felony charges that he accepted $360,000 in bribes nearly a decade ago from businessman Jared Abbruzzese. The verdict came after a nine-year effort by the government to prosecute him.
Bruno, of Brunswick, served as leader of the state Senate from 1994 to 2008. He was first convicted in 2009, but the ruling was reversed after the U.S. Supreme Court changed the definition of honest services fraud. Last year, he was indicted again on bribery charges.
Bruno used $1.5 million from his campaign account to help pay for his legal fees, according to New York Public Interest Research Group’s Bill Mahoney.
“I hope they just obey the law and arrive at a number that actually says I am due reasonable legal expenses,” Bruno said. “That’s what I want. The number is over $4 million, I think.”
According to Schneiderman’s office, the attorney general has not yet received a request for reimbursement from Bruno. Schneiderman’s office declined request for comment until Bruno submits the documents and a decision is made.
“I hope Eric Schneiderman is fair and objective and not in any way political,” Bruno said. “I hope he knows what the law is. He can read the Public Officers Law like I can.”
The law relates to “reimbursement of defense costs incurred by or on behalf of state employees” and states that “it shall be the duty of the state to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses incurred by or on behalf of an employee in his or her defense of a criminal proceeding in a state or federal court” if acquitted.
Also during the radio show, Bruno said he plans to stay in New York because his family lives here, and he would like to be active in the community because his life was “put on hold six years ago.”
“There are so many good things I wanted to do in the last years of my life,” Bruno said. “I am a very young man at the age of 85. I want to be more active in the community, and I think I can be helpful.”