Apr 28, 2012 3:15 AM GMT
Mr. Kruger, 62, was the first defendant to be sentenced in a widespread bribery conspiracy case that originally ensnared eight people, and was seen as offering yet more evidence of the apparently unending wave of corruption in Albany.
Prosecutors had asked the judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court, to impose a prison sentence of 9 to 11 ¼ years, as recommended under the advisory federal guidelines. The judge issued the lesser sentence to Mr. Kruger, citing his “many good deeds.” But he made it clear that such credit was outweighed by the fact that Mr. Kruger had entered into “extensive, long-lasting, substantial bribery schemes that frankly were like daggers in the heart of honest government.”
Judge Rakoff said it was difficult to overstate the evils that are wrought when government officials succumb to bribery, “let alone one of Mr. Kruger’s power and prominence.”
“We have only to look at other countries,” he said, “to see that once corruption takes hold, democracy itself becomes a charade, justice becomes a mere slogan camouflaging a cesspool of self-interest.”
Before he was sentenced, Mr. Kruger rose and delivered a short statement, keeping his emotions largely in check. “My actions will forever overshadow whatever legacy I managed to achieve,” he said. He added, “I have no one but myself to blame, and that reality will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Mr. Kruger, who was elected to the State Senate in 1994 and rose to become the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, had been accused by the authorities of accepting more than $1 million in bribes from two hospital executives, a prominent lobbyist and a health care consultant. In return, he agreed to take official action to benefit them or their clients, prosecutors said.