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Stiffer penalties, steep fines for convicted lawmakers in Cuomo's proposed ethics reform bill
ALBANY -- After months of promising reform, after weeks of answering questions of when and weeks after two state lawmakers were arrested and charged in separate bribery schemes, Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a campaign and ethics bill to the state legislature for consideration.
Dubbed the Public Trust Act, Cuomo's bill would tighten up the definition of what is considered a bribe, what offering a bribe is, and expand the penalties for those convicted of such crimes.
There are four categories of bribe outlined in the bill: bribery from a lawmaker to another person, bribery received by a lawmaker, bribery in accepting money for access to a public office, and bribery for giving money to be in a public office. If convicted of any crime, no matter the level of conviction, lawmakers would face a felony. Mandatory sentencing, depending on the conviction, could result in 6-10 years in prison and carry up to a $100,000 fine. Court fees up to $10,000 could also apply.
The bill states, if passed, the law would take affect 30 days from the time it was passed.
Earlier this month two lawmakers, Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) were arrested on bribery charges in a separate matter.
According to the US Attorney's Office, Smith, paid the GOP heads of two New York City boroughs cash in exchange for his signatures to allow his name on the mayoral ticket as a republican.
The same office arrested Assemblyman Stevenson for allegedly taking $22,000 in cash in exchange for fast tracking the opening of an adult day care center in his Bronx district.
Both Stevenson and Smith plead not guilty. They are due back in court later this summer.