Former New York Comptroller Said Ready to Plead Guilty on Pension Kickbacks

Alan Hevesi prepared to plead guilty to a felony corruption charge as part of a state investigation of its pension fund.

Former New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi is prepared to plead guilty to a felony corruption charge as part of a state investigation of its pension fund, newspapers reported on Wednesday.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, also a candidate for governor, has been investigating whether Hevesi's office solicited payments from money managers before they could win business from the state pension fund.

Hevesi's Israeli connection in the alleged scandal is he reportedly took bribes from Elliot Broidy, the chairman and one of the founders of Markstone Capital Partners, the largest private investment fund in Israel.

Broidy pleaded guilty in December, 2009 to charges he helped Markstone land a lucrative deal with New York's public pension fund by giving nearly $1 million worth of illegal gifts to four state officials in a kickback scheme at the comptroller's office - Hevesi is thought to be one of them. The pension fund invested $250 million in Markstone, out of a total of $800 million the fund raised.

The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both reported that Hevesi was close to a guilty plea in the "pay to play" probe, citing unnamed sources familiar with the case.

Cuomo's office released a statement saying, "There is no agreement between the Attorney General's Office and Alan Hevesi; the office has an ongoing investigation."

Cuomo's office has secured guilty pleas from other officials in the investigation, but Hevesi would be the highest ranking. He may have to serve prison time, the Times said.

Hevesi resigned in 2006 after pleading guilty to defrauding the government, specifically by using a state worker to drive his wife on shopping trips and do housework.

The investigation revealed that Hevesi's office, which controls New York state's $129 billion pension fund, steered money to political allies.

Broidy agreed to return $18 million in fees to the pension fund and Markstone also reached and agreement with Cuomo in Februrary on paying a similar amount. In august, Markstone announced it would not make any further investments.

Hevesi's lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.