AG OKs Covering Ex-Leader’s Legal Bills

ALBANY (AP) -

New York’s attorney general on Wednesday approved $2.4 million for the legal defense bills of a former state Senate leader acquitted of federal fraud charges.

Retired Republican Sen. Joe Bruno was eligible for the reimbursement because state law authorizes the payment of “reasonable” attorneys’ fees for officials accused of criminal wrongdoing while acting within the scope of their duties.

Such reimbursements are routinely reviewed, and on Wednesday, a top deputy to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to say the office “has no choice” but to approve it.

The request now moves to DiNapoli’s office for review.

Bruno, 85, has said two trials and appeals cost him more than $4 million. He had been charged with taking bribes to direct state grants to a businessman. The businessman testified he hired Bruno as a consultant.

“We are pleased that we are through the attorney general’s office,” said Bruno attorney E. Stewart Jones. “Now it’s on to the comptroller.”