NEW YORK, NY (WKBW) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a felony guilty plea by Henry “Hank” Morris, the chief political adviser to former Comptroller of the State of New York Alan Hevesi, for his involvement in a pay-to-play kickback scheme at the Office of the New York State Comptroller.
Morris used the pension fund for a pay-to-play scheme in which he personally received approximately $19 million in fees from billions of dollars in pension deals and steered investments to friends and political associates.
Morris pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Martin Act, a class E felony, and faces up to four years in prison. The sentence will be determined by the judge on February 1, 2011. According to today’s plea agreement, Morris will forfeit $19 million that will go to the state pension fund. He will also be permanently banned from the securities industry in New York State and will be prohibited from soliciting or receiving investments from the State of New York or any governmental entity within the State. In addition, Morris will be prohibited from holding any public position or entering into any contractual relationship with the State of New York or any governmental entity within the State.
“Hank Morris used his influence at the New York State Comptroller’s Office to stockpile millions in fees for himself from state pension fund investments,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Through his scheme, Morris personified pay-to-play corruption. With this plea, funds will be rightly restored to the State of New York and justice will be served.”
Today’s announcement marks the eighth guilty plea in Cuomo’s three-year investigation into corruption involving the Office of the New York State Comptroller and the state pension fund. The charges allege a complex criminal scheme involving numerous individuals operating at the highest political and governmental levels under former Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Through this scheme, Hevesi, Morris, and certain of their political allies and friends reaped tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks, bribes, and sham consulting and finder fees connected to pension fund investments.
In addition to the guilty pleas, Cuomo’s investigation has resulted in agreements with sixteen firms and three individuals, garnering more than $158 million in recoveries for the state, including today’s case.
Release from AG Office.