What do former politicians Alan Hevesi, Joe Bruno, Guy Velella and Clarence Norman have in common, besides convictions of criminal charges? They're all still receiving taxpayer-funded pensions worth tens of thousands of dollars a year!
The Daily News reports that at least 10 ex-New York State lawmakers are still earning handsome pension payments, years after their criminal convictions and jail time. Former state Sen. Velella, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to bribery charges and served six months at Rikers, receives a $75,012 a year: "The law says I've earned it. I am entitled to it. I take it," he said. Ex-Senate boss Bruno gets $96,085, despite a conviction of honest services fraud. Former State Comptroller Hevesi, who pleaded guilty in 2006 using state workers as his wife's chauffeur, receives $105,221 a year, and Norman, who was convicted of selling judgeships in 2007, gets $43,321.
State Controller Thomas DiNapoli doesn't have the authority to withhold pension payments to corrupt lawmakers as the law stands, but legislation granting attorney generals the power to withdraw pensions from convicted politicians has been introduced recently in the Senate. Dick Dadey, executive director of the good government group Citizens Union, said the payouts underscore the need to reform New York's pension system: "They violated the public trust while in office and so the public should no longer have to pay for their pensions...Trust is a two-way street, and we shouldn't be asked to continue to pay when they violated their oath of office."