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Ex-New York State Common manager gets 21 months for pay-to-play

A former portfolio manager for the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, must serve 21 months in prison for accepting gifts including concert tickets, drugs and luxury watches from brokers in exchange for steering billions of dollars in business to their firms.

Navnoor Kang, who managed fixed income at the now $206.9 billion pension fund, was arrested in December 2016 and accused of taking thousands of dollars in bribes from brokers.

"I want to express my regret and deeply apologize to the court and to the government for the mistakes I made," a tearful Mr. Kang told the judge. "I accept responsibility for my actions."

Prosecutors had urged U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken to sentence Mr. Kang, who last November pleaded guilty, to at least 10 years in prison. They called his actions a "flagrant abuse of his position of public trust." His actions were "accomplished through exploitation of his trusted position and his willingness to lie and deceive at every turn," prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.

Mr. Kang had sought a sentence of house arrest, saying his trading decisions were focused only on the value of the securities to the fund and that his fixed-income investments were monitored closely. He said neither the state nor the fund had lost money due to his conduct, which he said was a "departure from his otherwise law-abiding life."

According to prosecutors, Mr. Kang started working for the fund in early 2014 and was responsible for investing more than $53 billion in fixed-income securities.