Cuomo: Ray Harding Up on 3 Felony Charges, Texas Financier Pleads Out in Pension, Office-Peddling Scams

andycuomo.jpg Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (pictured) has announced that he's charging former New York State Liberal Party Chairman Ray Harding with three felonies committed during Alan Hevesi's days as comptroller. The AG says Hevesi's lieutenants Hank Morris and David Loglisci, who were indicted last month, used $800,000 on fees fraudulently obtained from the state pension fund to reward Harding for favors -- one specifically, he said, was that "Harding was dispatched to help clear a seat in the state assembly, so Hevesi's son Andrew could run for the open seat" -- Alan Hevesi's old seat in the 28th District in Queens -- by helping to arrange for the then-assemblyman Michael Cohen "to get a six-figure job at a health insurance company in New York (HIP)." Cohen resigned the seat unexpectedly in 2005.

Cuomo said Harding also delivered endorsements for various state and city offices under similar arrangements. The mechanism for the payoffs, Cuomo said, was that Morris and Loglisci "steered pension contracts to Harding by making him a placement agent" -- that is, someone who raises money for investment funds. But in fact, Cuomo said, Harding was not a real placement agent, and this was "a mere sham transaction" to cover the illegal activity.

Cuomo also announced that "hedge fund manager and classical music impresario Barrett Wissman" -- an associate of the powerful Hunt family of Texas -- had pleaded guilty to involvement in the scheme, and will pay $12 million in penalties and forfeiture to the state over a period of three years, and also be sentenced at a later date.

As to whether Alan Hevesi, then-Governor George Pataki, Cohen etc. share any culpability in this matter, Cuomo had no statement (he did say "We have no evidence that Andrew Hevesi had anything to do with this scheme or even knew about it"). But Cuomo did add that more charges would be forthcoming.

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