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Hevesi aides charged in kickbacks

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Two top aides to former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, a Forest Hills resident, were charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks and using their influence over the state’s billion−dollar pension fund for personal and political gain, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.

Hank Morris, Hevesi’s chief political adviser while he was running the pension fund, and former chief investment officer David Loglisci were charged with enterprise corruption, securities fraud, grand larceny, bribery and money laundering, Cuomo said.

Hevesi was not directly named in the kickback case, but the attorney general said more charges may be forthcoming.

“By injecting politics and self−dealing into investment decisions at the state pension fund, the defendants are alleged to have corrupted the New York state comptroller’s office,” the attorney general said in a statement. “The over 1 million New Yorkers and their families who are the beneficiaries of this fund deserve to have their hard−earned retirement counts kept free from politically driven investments and personal agendas.”

Morris, who ran Heveis’s comptroller campaigns, faces up to 340 years in prison if convicted and Loglisci faces up to 193 years, Cuomo said.

A former political consultant, Morris’ clients included U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D−N.Y.) and then−state Assemblyman Thomas Dinapoli, who ironically was voted to replace Hevesi by his assembly colleagues.

Cuomo claimed Morris took $30 million in placement fees for himself and business partners from companies that the pension fund was being invested in.

Hevesi, comptroller from 2003−07, resigned in February 2007 after it was revealed he used a state driver to act as a chaeuffer for his ailing wife, claiming there were threats to her security. But there were no such risks.

Hevesi, an assemblyman and city comptroller before being elected state comptroller, paid a $5,000 fine related to the driving scandal, but did not receive jail time.

Cuomo contended Morris directed companies doing business with the pension fund to contribute to Hevesi’s campaign account and then Morris made sure pension funds were invested with those firms.

The attorney general alleged Morris and other senior−level officials created a scheme whereby Hevesi cronies were paid “sham ‘placement fees’” on transactions with the pension fund as kickbacks for endorsements and political favors for Hevesi.

Cuomo claimed Morris illegally benefitted to the tune of $30 million in placement of fees, gifts and bribes.

Loglisci is accused of steering hundreds of millions of dollars in investment deals to Morris as well as favored firms and taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the companies that were used to produce “Chooch,” a low−budget movie made by Loglisci’s brother, Cuomo said.

The former chief investment officer also allegedly forced a company seeking business with the pension fund to arrange a $90,000 contract to distribute the movie’s DVDs, the attorney general claimed.

In conjunction with the charges, Cuomo’s office froze $11 million in Morris’ assets — $7 million in bank accounts and $4 million of property.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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