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After corruption plots, Cuomo announces tougher penalties for dishonest pols

New legislation would make it easier to prosecute politicians.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Mario Tama/Getty Image News.) Governor Andrew Cuomo (Mario Tama/Getty Image News.)

After a week where a slew of state politicians were charged in two separate corruption crimes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced tougher penalties for corruption today.

The governor announced a legislation package, which he calls the Public Trust Act, while joined by state district attorneys who say they need help holding corrupt politicians accountable.

“It is time to put an end to the dirty dealers among our elected officials,” Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said.

Last week, State Sen. Malcolm Smith and Queens Councilman Dan Halloran were among those arrested in a plot, prosecutors say, to rig the 2013 mayoral race.

Days later, Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was charged with corruption in a separate case.

Laws already on the books are not effective enough to prosecute these politicians, Cuomo said.

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

Under the state bribery laws right now, a prosecutor has to prove an understanding between the person paying the bribe and the person receiving it. But under Cuomo’s legislation, prosecutors would only have to prove the person “intended” to influence through a bribe.

“Crimes of public corruption should be treated more seriously than other white-collar crimes because when they break the law, they also break the public trust that the people have placed in government,” Cuomo said.

The legislation would also bar those convicted from holding office, lobbying, contracting or doing business with the state.

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