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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Court Of Appeals Denies Joseph L. Bruno’s Interlocutory Appeal

Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Will Face Retrial

ALBANY, NEW YORK - In an opinion issued today in United States v. Joseph L. Bruno, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Chief U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe’s decision to deny Bruno’s motion to dismiss the superseding indictment on double jeopardy grounds. The opinion clears the path for trial, and Chief Judge Sharpe has scheduled a status hearing on August 13th at 3:00 p.m.

In December of 2009, a jury convicted the former majority leader of the New York State Senate of two counts of honest services fraud. Then, in 2010, the United States Supreme Court decided United States v. Skilling, holding that the honest services statute criminalizes only fraudulent schemes involving bribes or kickbacks. In light of Skilling, Bruno’s conviction was vacated, but (on November 16, 2011) the Court of Appeals held that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment did not bar retrial of Bruno on an indictment that charged honest services fraud based a bribery or kickback theory because the evidence presented at trial was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that Bruno accepted “payments that were intended to and did influence his conduct as a public official,” and that “Bruno’s actions deprived New York citizens of his honest services as a New York senator under the standard announced in Skilling.” After a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment on May 3, 2013, Bruno filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on double jeopardy grounds. Chief Judge Sharpe denied the motion, and Bruno filed the interlocutory appeal denied today.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth C. Coombe and William C. Pericak. United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced that, consistent with the decision by the Court of Appeals, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will seek resolution of this case by trial as soon as possible.

Updated January 29, 2015