- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

NEW YORK | A California venture capitalist pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he helped his company land a quarter-billion dollar deal with New York’s giant public pension fund by making nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials.

Markstone Capital Partners Chairman Elliott Broidy entered the plea in a Manhattan courtroom, admitting to a felony charge of rewarding official misconduct.

Broidy is the latest in a string of private equity executives and investment advisers charged in connection with New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s investigation of a pay-to-play scandal in the office of former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Mr. Cuomo, though, said Broidy’s case takes the probe in a different direction.

Four high-level officials in the comptroller’s office, he said, accepted gifts or other lucrative benefits from Broidy.

“This is an old-fashioned payoff of state officials,” Mr. Cuomo said. “This is effectively bribery of state officials, and not just one, but a number of state officials in the comptroller’s office.”

Only one, the pension fund’s former chief financial officer, David Loglisci, has been charged in the case. He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Cuomo declined to name the three others, saying the investigation was not yet complete.

The gifts, the attorney general’s office said, were lavish.

One official had Broidy funnel payments of $90,000 to his girlfriend to cover rent and hospital bills, plus another $44,000 in payments to the girlfriend’s relative, prosecutors said.

While that official has not been identified, a person familiar with the investigation said he is former Hevesi aide Jack Chartier, and the woman who received the money was the actress Peggy Lipton. Previous news reports have also linked Mr. Chartier and Miss Lipton to the scandal. The person spoke to Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Chartier hasn’t been charged.

Another state official, prosecutors said, was rewarded indirectly when his relative was given a sham consulting contract worth more than $380,000.

Broidy also paid for a “very high ranking” senior official in the comptroller’s office to travel with his family to Israel and Italy on a luxurious trip that included helicopter tours. The vacation cost $75,000, the attorney general’s office said.

Broidy put up $300,000 that was ultimately invested through an intermediary in the movie, “Chooch,” an obscure independent film set in Mexico and Queens produced by Mr. Loglisci’s brother.

As part of his plea bargain, Broidy has agreed to forfeit $18 million. He was freed on bail after entering his plea Thursday and will be allowed to travel, with restrictions. He could get up to four years in prison, but his cooperation could lead to a lighter sentence.

Miss Lipton hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

Mr. Hevesi, who resigned in 2006 after pleading guilty in an unrelated scandal involving the improper use of a state chauffeur, has denied accepting any improper gifts or bribes and is not charged in the influence peddling case.

Mr. Chartier was named publicly, years ago, as a subject of the investigation. He has not commented publicly on his role in the probe.

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