New York's Cuomo Settles Pension Plan Probe of His Father's Former Aide
The agreement with Albany, New York, attorney and lobbyist Gerald A. “Jerry” Weiss was disclosed yesterday on the attorney general’s official state website and in an e-mail. Weiss, who had no securities license and wasn’t affiliated with a broker-dealer, got $52,000 for introducing an investment firm to the New York City Comptroller’s Office, according to the agreement.
Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who was elected New York’s governor last month, also announced yesterday that he had recouped $1.5 million for the state and its Common Retirement Fund from a Dallas investment firm and from a lobbying firm led by a Weiss partner, Patricia Lynch.
“Gifts, favors and campaign contributions are not a legitimate basis for government contracts or special treatment,” the attorney general said in a statement announcing the accords with Patricia Lynch Associates Inc. and the Dallas firm, Aldus Equity.
Weiss and Lynch are partners in another Albany lobbying firm, LW Strategies LLC, according to an online New York City directory of registered lobbyists.
Weiss is also a partner in the Syracuse, New York-based law firm Hiscock & Barclay LLP, which in July contributed $45,900 to Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign, according to New York State Board of Elections on-line data. The firm donated $10,000 to the campaign in January 2008.
A biography for Weiss on the Hiscock & Barclay website shows he served as a deputy to Mario Cuomo, when he was New York’s secretary of state, and later as counsel and a campaign manager when Cuomo was running for lieutenant governor.
“The settlement terms regarding Mr. Weiss are consistent with the agreements obtained from every other target of the investigation,” said John Milgrim, a spokesman for Cuomo, in a phone interview yesterday.
Gabriel Nugent, a partner in the Hiscock & Barclay firm who is identified in the settlement papers as counsel for Weiss, declined to comment on the agreement or discuss the contributions made to the Cuomo campaign.
Mario Cuomo didn’t immediately return a phone message left at his home yesterday. Cuomo now holds a so-called of counsel position at the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York. The firm’s clients include Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.
Aldus Equity, a Dallas-based pension plan adviser, will pay $1 million in restitution to New York’s Common Retirement Fund for securities fraud by that firm’s principal Saul Meyer, Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. Aldus didn’t admit to any wrongdoing in the agreement.
Meyer last year pleaded guilty to criminal charges, admitting he paid $300,000 to Henry “Hank” Morris, who was an adviser to former state comptroller Alan Hevesi, to obtain the pension fund’s investment business for his firm.
Cuomo also said the Patricia Lynch Associates firm will pay the state $500,000 for misconduct including arranging campaign contributions for Hevesi and finding a job for his daughter.
Hevesi, a Democrat, pleaded guilty in October to participating in a pay-to-play scandal at the retirement fund, the third-largest pension plan in the U.S., with a value last month of $132.8 billion.
New York state Judge Lewis Bart Stone said Hevesi may be sentenced to 1 1/3 years to four years in prison or as little as no time at all. Sentencing is set for Dec. 16.
Morris pleaded guilty to securities fraud before a state judge in Manhattan on Nov. 22. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 1. Cuomo said Meyer is to be sentenced on Dec. 16.
Meyer’s lawyer, Paul Shechtman of New York, didn’t return a call seeking comment on yesterday’s announcement. Warren Garden, a Dallas attorney representing Aldus in a lawsuit filed by New York Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, also didn’t respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment.
Under the agreement with Cuomo, Lynch will be banned from appearing before the state comptroller’s office for five years.
“We’re pleased to put this matter behind us,” Darren Dopp, a Lynch firm partner and spokesman, said in a phone interview.
Weiss didn’t admit any wrongdoing in his agreement with Cuomo. According to the agreement, he and his lobbying firm divided $104,000 in fees received from an investment firm which got pension business from the New York City Police and Fire pension funds.
Under the agreement with Cuomo, Weiss agreed to surrender his $52,000 share of the fees and to pay an additional $26,000 to the attorney general’s office.
Weiss held no securities license and wasn’t an affiliated broker dealer when he agreed to lobby for GF Capital Private Equity GP LLC with the comptroller’s office, according to the Cuomo agreement. GF Capital was given $13 million in city police and fire department pension monies to invest, according to the agreement.
Steven M. Cohen, Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff, signed the agreement with Weiss.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at email@example.com.
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