Henry “Hank” Morris, former political adviser to New York’s ex-comptroller, was prodded by the judge overseeing his criminal case to resolve the charges against him involving corruption at the state’s pension fund.
The case is at the center of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation of fraud related to the fund’s operations. Six people have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the probe, including the former chief investment officer at the pension fund, David Loglisci.
Morris, who advised former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, is accused of skewing the investment process to favor deals that benefited him, his associates and contributors to Hevesi’s campaign. Hevesi hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing in the case.
Morris faces a trial on about 75 charges, including enterprise corruption, which carries a prison term of as long as 25 years. His “group” participated in 19 separate alternative investments generating $35 million in placement fees, with Morris himself or entities he owned, taking $19 million, according to court papers.
“Any discussion of possible resolution of the case other than trial?” State Supreme Court Justice Lewis Bart Stone asked the two sides at a hearing in Manhattan today.
Morris’s attorney William Schwartz and Ellen Biben, deputy New York attorney general, looked at each other.
“Not really,” Schwartz said.
“I would suggest that you do that,” Stone said.
The judge, who said the case could take from two to five months to try, set another court date for Oct. 21 and a trial date for April 26.
Aside from the people who have pleaded guilty, 15 firms have settled with Cuomo and agreed to a code of conduct that bans so-called placement agents from obtaining investments from public pension funds and limits campaign contributions to those with the power to assign investment business.
The case is People v. Morris, 0025/2009, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).