Ag's Office Calculates Money Owed To State By Hevesi
The New York State Attorney General’s Office today announced an agreement to resolve an inquiry into Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s use of state employees to perform non-official duties for his wife.
Under the agreement, the Comptroller will pay a total of $206,293.79 to compensate the state for his non-official use of state employees. In October, Mr. Hevesi paid $82,688.82, which was his office’s estimate of what he owed. In November, he placed an additional $90,000 in escrow at the direction of the Attorney General’s Office. He will pay the balance of $33, 604.97 within ten days.
The Attorney General’s Office began its inquiry in late October after the State Ethics Commission found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Hevesi violated Section 74 of the Public Officer’s Law, which prohibits a public official from using his position "to secure unwarranted privileges ... for himself or others." The inquiry by the Attorney General’s Office was limited to determining exactly what amount Mr. Hevesi owed the state.
Among the findings contained in the agreement is that, starting in January 2003 when Mr. Hevesi became State Comptroller, four state employees spent time on assignment to the Comptroller’s wife, Carol Hevesi, a private citizen. One of those employees – who was not a member of the Comptroller’s security detail – was assigned to drive Mrs. Hevesi intermittently between January and August 2003. He was replaced by Nicholas Acquafredda beginnning in June 2003. Acquafredda also was not a member of the security detail.
By the spring of 2005, Acquafredda was assigned to Mrs. Hevesi virtually full time. During this time, Acquafredda rarely reported to work at the Comptroller’s Office. Instead, he transported Mrs. Hevesi to and from medical and other personal appointments, ran errands for her, ate lunch with her, transported her to the Hevesi home in the town of Somers in Westchester County, and spent time with her there. Later, he aided her with rehabilitative knee exercises at the Somers house.
Because Hevesi failed to keep proper records of Acquafredda’s and the other employees’ activities as required by law, the Attorney General’s Office had to reconstruct the employees’ whereabouts by analyzing available data, including computer logins, emails and swipe cards. The amount owed was determined by multiplying each state employee’s salary and benefit information as well as vacation and sick day accruals by the number of days on which there was no or limited data showing presence in the office and then adding interest to that amount.
The reconstruction was aided by a review of Mrs. Hevesi’s appointment book, which recorded the times when Acquafredda accompanied her. The final amount, $206,293.79, is a product of that reconstruction – with all doubts resolved in favor of the state, as the law provides. The reconstruction is attached as an exhibit to the agreement.
Information developed by the Attorney General’s Office has been forwarded to the State Ethics Commission, the Special Counsel appointed by the Governor and the Albany County District Attorney.
Attorney General Spitzer was recused from the matter.
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