Kruger Sentenced, Bruno Indicted

Former state Senator Carl Kruger, one of the “Gang of Four” whose threat to switch parties after the Democrats won a majority in the 2008 election helped derail pro-tenant measures that session, was sentenced to seven years in prison April 26 on bribery charges.

The Brooklyn Democrat had pleaded guilty in December to taking more than $1 million in bribes.

Three of the Gang of Four now have wound up in legal trouble. Hiram Monserrate of Queens, who was expelled from the Senate in 2010 after being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, pleaded guilty May 4 to felony charges of using City Council funds to finance his campaign for the Senate. That same day, the state Legislative Ethics Commission ordered former Sen. Pedro Espada of the Bronx to pay $80,000 for hiring his uncle for a job in his Senate office. At press time, jurors were still deliberating in Espada’s trial on federal charges of embezzling money from a chain of health clinics he runs.

Meanwhile, former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer)—the main force behind the 1997 vacancy-decontrol law—was indicted May 3 on federal fraud charges. The indictment alleges that Bruno took $440,000 in bribes from an Albany businessman in exchange for steering more than $2.5 million in public funds to his businesses. 

Bruno was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges in 2009, but a federal appeals court overturned his conviction last year. The court ruled that he could not be jailed merely for failing to report a conflict of interest while taking “consulting fees” from people seeking help or contracts from state government. However, it left the door open to new charges if prosecutors could prove that those fees were effectively bribes.