NEW YORK - A federal appeals court says former New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno can be tried on two counts of mail fraud despite his claims it would constitute double jeopardy.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that a lower court was right to deny Bruno's request to drop the charges.
The same appeals court previously tossed out Bruno's honest services mail-fraud conviction. That jury had acquitted Bruno of five other counts and failed to reach a verdict on another. However, the latest charges relate to allegations that 84-year-old Bruno failed to disclose conflicts of interest while serving as a state senator.
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 dismissed the conviction saying that the honest services statute criminalizes only fraudulent schemes involving bribes or kickbacks.
Then in November 2011, the Court of Appeals held that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the 5th Amendment did not bar retrial of Bruno on honest services fraud charges based a bribery or kickback theory, because the evidence presented at trial was sufficient.
The court decided a reasonable jury could 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. The judge denied the motion, and Bruno filed the appeal denied Tuesday.
Bruno's attorney, E. Stewart Jones, says "Senator Bruno is certainly disappointed by the decision" and they are "looking at several options."
The next hearing is scheduled for August 13th.
[See the FULL U.S. Court of Appeals document below the comments]
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