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Wozniak case the latest in Albany corruption

Wozniak case the latest in Albany corruption
Posted at 11:39 AM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 12:25:14-05

Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak (C) could be facing possible sanctions from an ethics committee looking into allegations she sexually harassed a male staffer.  The Buffalo News says the report is expected to be released Wednesday.

Wozniak is just the latest in the line of lawmakers in Albany facing ethics and corruption accusations.

This past December, Ex-State Senate leader Dean Skelos (R) was found guilty of charges his office used to extort about $300,000 in salary and other benefits for his son. Prosecutors say he used his top position in Albany to pressure companies to hire his son.

Skelos and his son already filed papers seeking a new trial.

Just two weeks earlier, at the end of November, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was also convicted. A federal jury found he used his office to illegally make $5 million through referral fees from personal injury claims, real estate deals, and other shady investments.

Reports also show Silver gave out more than $500,000 to Council Financial. The group in Williamsville gives loans to law offices waiting for larger payouts. In the process, Council Financial had $100,000 worth of cash loaned by Silver, seized by the federal government.

One of the longtime “three men in a room” ex-State Senate leader Joe Bruno (R) was indicted on corruption in January 2009, six months after he retired from the Senate’s top spot. Bruno was accused of running a consulting firm out of his office, helping companies with business before the state; they paid him $3.2 million in consulting fees.

Bruno was convicted of federal charges in 2010, and sentenced to two years in prison. He never served the time, staying at home awaiting his appeal.  The conviction was overturned the next year. He faced a re-trial in 2014, in that case he was acquitted of all charges.

The year before Bruno was indicted, former Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) was taken down by a prostitution scandal. It was uncovered that Spitzer was “Client 9” in a F.B.I. agent’s affidavit into a prostitution ring investigation.

Spitzer resigned from office 7 days after the scandal broke, on March 17, 2008. Just a month ago, state police announced the agency is looking into a woman's claim she was assaulted by the former governor at a hotel.

Here in Western New York, lawmakers have been caught up in corruption accusations. Former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D) resigned his post in the 143-rd district in January 2014. That’s the district Wozniak now represents. 

Seven staffers filed lawsuits against Gabryszak, accusing him of sexual harassment. In December, a report came out from the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics. It appears to back up the allegations, and the report claims he violated public officer’s law, essentially the lawmaker’s code of conduct.