By Roger J. Stone

Joe Bruno
If former New York Senate Republican Leader Joe Bruno is convicted in a 'Theft of Honest Services' case in a trial that just ended in Albany New York, then New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver should be immediately indicted based on his outside income of $350,000 a year from a personal injury law firm, and based on his known opposition in the Assembly to tort reform. A stretch? Joe Bruno has been proven to have received outside income as a business consultant, permissible for part-time legislators under New York law. In roughly four weeks of trial, the government has failed to prove any bribe, any pressure, any inappropriate official conduct or governmental action to benefit Bruno's clients. The very 'Honest Services' law Bruno is being prosecuted under is under review at the U.S. Supreme Court in three separate cases. Justice John Scalia has called the law "unconstitutionally vague" and has called for the law to be overturned by the Court. An intelligent judge would have delayed this trial until the status of the law was clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court. But Judge Gary Sharpe, an arrogant, preening bully who made so many trial errors that he virtually guaranteed a Bruno acquittal on appeal should the jury find the 81 year old former Senator guilty. Judge Sharpe betrayed his deep bias against Bruno by attacking him personally in response to a conversation Bruno had with his lawyer, and which the court stenographer found inaudible. Joe Bruno has a constitutional right to confer with his lawyer in the courtroom. Sharpe's conduct demonstrates that he lacks the temperament for the bench, although his final charge to the jury were surprisingly unloaded. Also over-the-top in their conduct is the U.S. Attorney's office who granted immunity to an admitted thief who was a bookkeeper who stole from Bruno in return for irrelevant testimony disparaging her boss. U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Baxter also granted immunity to one of Bruno's closest friends whose testimony for the prosecution probably did Bruno's case more good than it did the prosecutions. Overreaching is an understatement. It is not coincidental that former U.S. Attorney Glenn T. Suddaby, now a Federal Judge, thoroughly investigated the Bruno matter and despite remorseless prodding by the FBI could not find evidence of a crime and informed Bruno's lawyers of same. Only after Suddaby vacated the office did Baxter, the Acting U.S. Attorney, decide to prosecute the Bruno case, despite its total lack of evidence of a crime. In essence, Joe Bruno got prosecuted for the crime of being Joe Bruno. New York's ethics laws for elected officials need substantial reform, but Joe Bruno adhered to the State law in his private business dealings and disclosed his activities based on the advice of two attorneys. He is innocent of any crime.