Jan 24, 2009
News of Uncle Joe Bruno's indictment on federal corruption charges suprised very few here in the Capital Region on Friday. But aren't those Feds real party-poopers, timing it on the same day as Kirsten Gillibrand's ascention to the US Senate. Not nice, boys ...
Yes, I read the complete indictment -- and had two reactions:
1) At least five of the six charges seem to make a pretty darn strong case, to this set of amateur eyes, at least.
2) It's kind of scary how many people and companies mentioned in the indictments I actually know! O, SmAlbany!
But I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a rather bizzare set of predictions:
- Mr Bruno will go to trial
- Mr Bruno will be found guilty of most (if not all) six charges
- He will be sentenced to prison and required to forfeit $3million+ in asssets
- But he won't serve a day nor lose a penny
Remember Ken Lay of Enron fame and misfortune? Now recall the result of his trial: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty! But, one-half of the "Smartest Guys in the Room" exercised his legal right to appeal that decision --- and died of heart disease before the appeal was ruled upon.
Shortly thereafter, a judge vacated Lay's conviction on the grounds that the defendant had not enjoyed the opportunity to exhast all remedies offered by the judicial process. Furthermore, a judge ruled that all asset claims were invalid, because "the courts shouldn't be able to punish a dead defendant or his estate." His family is partying-on to this day on old Ken's tainted cash.
Let's do some math, then, on Mr Bruno's situation. Uncle Joe, the stubborn guy that he is, will not take a plea deal but will instead (no doubt) vow to take 'em on in a public court. That will take about three years to happen, the way the system slugs along and the lawyers rack up the billing-chits. The trial itself will take another three months. This will take us to the Spring of 2012.
Assume for the moment that he is found guilty as charged. We all know the drill and what happens about six months later: "Your honor, my client appeals his convition." Papers get shuffled, FAX machine crank (yes: the legal profession still uses FAX machines), the lawyers keep visiting the bank and the calendar now finds itself with a number of 2013 on it. The Appeals court might rule sometime deep into that year. But will Joe be around to hear it?
Joe Bruno is currently 79 years of age. By the time the above scenario reaches its end, he will be either 83 or 84. Bruno has health issues (cancer) and is now faced with a pronlonged period of great personal stress -- and we all know what stress can do to a person's heath, especially an elderly person's health. He's already looking like Hell, as witnessed at his shaky press conference in front of the cameras yesterday.
The bottom line is that there is a reasonably-likely chance that Mr Bruno might not survive (i.e., 'die') before that appeal is ruled upon, way out there in future years. Go ask an insurance company actuary for verification on this matter.
Now, I'm certainly not trying to predict the death-date of a living human being: that job is already taken by somone much better qualified. I am just painting a possible picture here.
But look at that picture closely. Joe Bruno gets convicted; he appeals; he dies before the appeal is ruled upon. Conviction vacated; all assets in question (that $3million+ that was gained as a result of the corrupt activities in question) are returned to his estate. It's party time in Brunswick! Now wouldn't that be a kick?
They better start looking right now for a giant photo of Joe Bruno that shows him grinning from ear to ear. There's a good chance they will need it to place above his coffin in the funeral home someday.