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Joe Bruno faces fraud charges

A three-year federal investigation into former State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno culminated in an eight-count indictment on Friday, Jan. 23, that accuses the longtime statesman of defrauding the state and its citizens of honest representation by accepting money from groups and individuals with an interest in legislative business.

The 35-page indictment says the Brunswick Republican used his influence and contacts to steer business toward entities that he then accepted money from. Prosecutors allege that Bruno collected nearly $3.2 million in this manner between 1993 and 2006, and then acted to cover it up in financial disclosures to the Legislative Ethics Committee.

Bruno pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday, at which time he was released on his own recognizance.

Bruno has largely avoided speaking about his indictment, save for a press conference following his court appearance and an interview on Capital News 9. On both occasions, the statesman called the federal investigation a fishing expedition and "witch hunt" that didn't' pay off after three long years, forcing investigators to concoct a set of sensationalized and false charges against him.

He hasn't commented on any specifics of the eight charges.

As senate majority leader, Bruno held one of the three most powerful positions in state government. Most directly, he decided what resolutions would come to the floor of the Senate and played a huge role in the budget process. The post also required a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, and exactly how Bruno conducted himself in the many negotiations during his career is at the heart of the charges against him.

It is alleged that in his supposed backroom dealings with labor unions, for example, he convinced many to hire Wright Investors' Service of Connecticut to manage their benefit funds, and that he had a written agreement with Wright to collect reference fees.

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