Blubbering former state Sen. Carl Kruger tearfully pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges at a Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, ending nine months of speculation over whether the disgraced pol had accepted nearly $1 million in bribes.
The normally brash Southern Brooklyn Democratic power broker, who professed his innocence for nearly a year, agreed to pay back $450,000 of his ill-gotten gains as part of the plea deal hammered out with federal prosecutors. He faces up to 50 years in prison, and will be sentenced on April 26 alongside his roommate and reputed lover Michael Turano, who pleaded guilty to one count of bribery conspiracy. Turano is facing five years in prison.
Charges of money-laundering against both men were dropped under their plea deals.
Kruger, once one of the most powerful lawmakers in Albany, tearfully admitted to peddling his influence to developers in exchange for up to $1 million in bribes, from 2007 to February of this year.
“I apologize if I’m a little emotional right now,” he told Judge Jed Rakoff, his voice trembling. “I accept responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry for conduct.”
Kruger and his attorney Benjamin Brafman refused to take questions from reporters, but read a statement outside Manhattan Federal Court.
“By accepting responsibility for his conduct, Senator Kruger has confirmed his respect for the integrity of the judicial process,” said Brafman. “Mr. Kruger has honestly served during a lifetime of public and community service, which although obviously flawed, is still nevertheless on balance, quite extraordinary.”
The feds begged to differ.
“Senator Kruger monetized his public office and served himself,” said US Attorney Preet Bharara. “The people of New York expect, deserve and demand honesty and integrity from their public servants.”
Prosecutors said that Kruger used his dirty money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included a super luxury English-made Bentley automobile and the garish seaside mansion on Mill Island that he shared with Turano’s family, including Dorothy Turano, Michael’s mother who is the district manager of Community Board 18.
The case against Kruger unfolded a web of deceit and lies in March, when federal prosecutors charged him with using his office as a personal piggy bank for lobbyists in exchange for his help on legislative matters.
Federal prosecutors said that lobbyists paid Kruger close to $1 million to:
• Delay the expansion of a bill that included a five-cent deposit on bottled water.
• Alter the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law so grocery stores could begin selling wine with expanded hours.
• Fight Walmart and other big-box stores from setting up shop in Brooklyn.
• Go to war with American Indian reservations to collect state sales taxes on cigarettes.
Earlier in the day, Kruger submitted a terse resignation from his senate post prior to his meeting with the judge.
Under current law, Kruger, a 16-year veteran of the Senate, will be eligible for his state pension.
Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at [email protected] or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.