Whoever said crime doesn’t pay hasn’t been to Albany.
Disgraced Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hopes to soon join an exclusive club of 18 crooked ex-pols who pull down millions in taxpayer-funded pensions.
The former lawmakers, who were censured, indicted or convicted, have collectively glommed more than $3.8 million since fiscal year 2010, Empire Center for Public Policy figures show.
A jury convicted Silver, 71, of public-corruption charges on Monday and the verdict forced the Lower East Side power broker to immediately relinquish his Assembly seat. The next day the Democrat — who faces 130 years in prison for stealing $5 million — applied for his state pension.
He could collect as much as $98,010 a year, a comptroller’s estimate showed.
Silver’s former counterpart across the Capitol, Republican ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, 67, could get an $79,860 annual pension even if he is convicted in his federal corruption trial.
State pols are allowed to collect a pension for the rest of their lives once they file for retirement. They can opt for a lesser pension so that their spouses can collect checks after their death.
And while state law mandates they forfeit their political office upon a criminal conviction, the state constitution says nothing about stopping pensions. The state passed a law in 2011 giving judges power to strip pensions of felonious lawmakers but it applied only to new members.
“It’s unacceptably outrageous that lawmakers who violated the public trust can now rely upon taxpayer-funded pensions to ease their way for the rest of their lives,” said Citizens Union director Dick Dadey.
Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, 75, who managed the state’s $125 billion pension fund, pleaded guilty in 2010 to a pay-to-play scheme that netted nearly a million dollars in gifts, travel accommodations, and campaign donations. The Democrat has netted $654,543 from his pension over the past six years, including $167,446 while serving his 19-month prison sentence.
Late Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez, who resigned his Assembly seat in 2013 after he was accused of groping female staffers, grabbed at least $323,170 in pension payments before his death at age 74 last month.
Former Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger, 66, admitted to taking $500,000 in bribes in 2011 and received a seven-year sentence. The Dem has banked about $232,044 while serving his federal prison term, Empire Center estimates show.
US Attorney Preet Bharara vowed in 2013 to seize politicians’ pensions with judicial approval. He blocked former Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, convicted on bribery charges, of getting his pension, but Queens ex-Sen. Malcolm Smith, 59, convicted in February of trying to buy his way onto the Republican ballot, has been collecting his $24,247 annual pension.
© 2015 New York Post
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