2011-03-17 / Front Page

KRUGER CHARGED WITH BRIBERY

By Neil S. Friedman
and Charles Rogers


Senator Carl Kruger Senator Carl Kruger State Senator Carl Kruger was one of two state legislators, along with six others, who surrendered to federal authorities in lower Manhattan last Thursday morning to face an assortment of corruption charges stemming from a probe that began four years ago. The lawmakers are accused “of taking bribes over the course of a decade in schemes large and small.”

Four-term Democrat Assemblyman William Boyland was the other Albany legislator charged in the criminal complaint that also names a real estate developer, a lobbyist, a Brooklyn doctor and several hospital executives as defendants. In the 53- page criminal complaint filed by the United States Attorney for the Southern district, among the charges Kruger is accused of is receiving bribes totaling than $1 million in return for political favors concerning his support for a merger involving a Queens’ hospital that has since gone out of business.

U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said, “(This) complaint describes a boardbased bribery racket reflecting an unholy alliance of politicians, lobbyists and businessmen.”

Kruger, whose Brooklyn district includes portions of Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Mill Basin and parts of adjacent neighborhoods, has been under federal investigation since 2007 amid allegations he accepted campaign cash in exchange for political favors.

Among the charges in the complaint, Kruger pushed through legislation on behalf of a Queens hospital looking to merge with another hospital, as well as bills for liquor stores, beer distributors and state financial grants for Brooklyn real estate developers.

Kruger was at work in Albany, where he has served his district since 1994, the day before he turned himself in, but reportedly never told the staff at his 2201 Avenue U district office of his plan to surrender to authorities.

In 2008, Kruger parlayed a face-off with fellow Democrats to acquire the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Finance committee that included a $20,500 stipend. He had been the committee’s minority chairman since the Democrats lost control following last fall’s election. After last week’s complaint was announced, the Brooklyn Democrat was stripped of that post by Senate Democratic Conference leader John Sampson. A spokesman for Sampson said the senator would not have any comment on the situation at this time.

In the complaint, federal prosecutors also said Kruger used Community Board 18 to manipulate the zoning process for any developer in return for bribes. Some of the projects spotlighted in the complaint include the proposed Four Sparrows project on Flatbush Avenue, the massive Atlantic Yards development in northern Brooklyn, Canarsie Plaza on Remsen Avenue and the project for the new home of CB 18’s district office.

Benjamin Brafman, Kruger’s attorney issued the following statement to the media: “Senator Carl Kruger has been a dedicated, honest public servant for more than 25 years. He is obviously saddened by the filing of these charges but intends to vigorously defend himself in a courtroom where he expects to be fully vindicated.”

The next step in this case is a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 11 in federal court in Manhattan. After appearing before a judge last Thursday, Kruger, Boyland and the others were released without bail on their own recognizance.

In Bharara’s press release, he said, “Every time we arrest a state legislator, it should be a jarring wake-up call…No matter how many times the alarm goes off, Albany just hits the snooze button.”

Following last Thursday’s events, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the following statement: “Today’s arrests again spotlight the failings of New York State government and highlight the urgent need for the legislature to pass comprehensive ethics reform — now. New Yorkers deserve a clean and transparent government comprised of officials who work for the people, not for the special interests and certainly not for their own corrupt self-interests.”

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