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Cuomo proposes new class of corruption crimes

The Public Trust Act, new legislation being proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, would create a new class of public corruption crimes and enhance New York prosecutors’ ability to crack down on public corruption across the state.

Currently, the laws defining public corruption in New York are obsolete and far less effective than federal statutes for prosecuting individuals who commit public corruption crimes, according to a Cuomo release.

The Public Trust Act, announced Tuesday, would expand the current definitions of public corruption offenses to enable prosecutors to hold accountable those who violate public trust. The law would also impose tougher jail sentences on individuals that misuse public funds and permanently bar those convicted of public corruption offenses from holding any elected or civil office, lobbying, contracting, receiving state funding, or doing business with the state, directly or through an organization.

The new class of public corruption crimes would include bribing a public servant, corrupting the government and failing to report a bribe or a bribe attempt.

“For too long, outdated laws in New York state have limited prosecutors’ ability to root out public corruption,” says Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. “These common-sense proposals will combat the corruption and graft that has diminished the confidence that everyday citizens have in their government.”

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said the legislation gives prosecutors the tools needed to effectively ferret out and aggressively prosecute public corruption.