Another Sentenced in NY Pension Pay-to-Play Probe

May 24, 2011 ( - The former boss of New York's Liberal Party has been sentenced to a conditional discharge for his role in a pay-to-play scandal involving the state pension fund.

The Associated Press reports that Raymond Harding will avoid prison if he stays out of trouble for a year. Prosecutors accused Harding of collecting $800,000 in the scheme.  

According to the news report, Harding told the court he is “profoundly sorry” for his role in the scandal involving politically connected figures who gained investments from the state’s massive pension fund under former Democratic Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Harding pleaded guilty in October to felony securities fraud, a charge dismissed Wednesday as part of his plea deal. He admitted to accepting kickbacks from investment companies doing business with the pension fund as rewards for political favors to Hevesi.  

In April, Hevesi was sentenced to a term of one to four years in prison, the maximum sentence available by law (see Former NY Comptroller Gets Jail – and a Pension). He pleaded guilty in October 2010 to a felony for his involvement in a pay-to-play kickback scheme while the head of the state Comptroller’s Office, specifically to charges that he received nearly $1 million in gifts in exchange for improperly favoring and approving $250 million in pension fund investments in private equity fund Markstone Capital Partners, L.P.