A New York state judge said a plea deal was reached in the prosecution of ex-political consultant Henry “Hank” Morris, charged as part of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's probe of corruption at the $124.8 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany.
The plea follows news last month that Quadrangle Group co-founder Steven Rattner, the subject of state and federal investigations of corruption at the fund, is near a settlement with the SEC, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Morris was awaiting trial on charges he corrupted the investment process to benefit money managers who made campaign contributions and politically connected placement agents who received lucrative fees, including himself.
“The court is not willing to consider this on such short notice,” New York State Supreme Court Justice Lewis Stone said of the deal with Mr. Morris at a hearing in Manhattan. “In a matter as weighty as this, the court wants an opportunity to consider the papers.”
Mr. Rattner is accused by Mr. Cuomo and the SEC of arranging to retain Mr. Morris, the former chief political consultant to ex-New York state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, as a placement agent and paid him more than $1 million in sham “finder” fees. Mr. Rattner also is accused of setting up a DVD distribution deal for a movie produced by the brother of a pension fund official. In exchange, Quadrangle obtained $100 million in investment commitments from the state pension fund, said Mr. Cuomo, who resolved a probe of the firm in April for $7 million. Mr. Hevesi pleaded guilty in state court last month.
At least six other people besides Mr. Hevesi have pleaded guilty in connection with the New York probe, 15 firms besides Quadrangle have settled and more than $139 million has been paid to the fund and the state, according to Mr. Cuomo.
Richard Bamberger, spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, could not be reached for comment.