Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Albany County DA confirms talks with Hevesi's lawyers

Newsday AP Story MARK JOHNSON

This is better than the tv soap "All My Children" ...........AquaFredda spills his guts to the grand jury.....his name in Italian means Ice Cold Water.......could I make this stuff up??? andy

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Albany County district attorney confirmed Tuesday that his office is in "active discussions" with lawyers for Comptroller Alan Hevesi to end an investigation into Hevesi's use of state employees to drive for his wife. Hevesi, a Queens Democrat, faces a possible indictment by a grand jury hearing evidence in the case. Richard Arthur, a spokesman for District Attorney David Soares, said the discussions are "a normal part of any public integrity case." He declined to elaborate. Danielle Walsman, one of Hevesi's lawyers, refused to comment. Hevesi had an opportunity to give his side of the story to the grand jury last Friday, but declined to testify, according to a person familiar with Soares' investigation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because grand jury investigations are secret. While Hevesi did not attend, the man who did most of the driving for Carol Hevesi _ Nicholas Acquafredda _ did appear before the panel for about 90 minutes. Acquafredda later declined comment. Soares' office hopes to complete its investigation by the end of the year. Acquafredda is now being trained to work in the comptroller's unclaimed funds unit, Hevesi spokesman Jeffrey Gordon said Tuesday. Unclaimed funds such as old bank accounts, telephone or utility deposits and insurance benefits are sent to the comptroller's office, which then searches for the proper owner. In October, the state Ethics Commission said Hevesi, a Queens Democrat, violated the law when he used staffers to chauffeur his wife from 2003 to mid-2006. Most of that driving was done by Acquafredda, but three others also shared the duties early on. Hevesi claimed the driver was needed to provide security for his wife, but the bipartisan commission said state police found no threat that justified the arrangement. The panel said Hevesi apparently had no intention of repaying the state for the three years of service until his Republican challenger, J. Christopher Callaghan, went public with a complaint this year. Hevesi apologized for what he called the serious error of providing a "belated" reimbursement, but insists he did not break the law and he was re-elected by a large margin. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the governor-elect, recused himself from the case, but ordered a top deputy to investigate how much Hevesi still owed the state. Hevesi last week agreed to pay the state $206,293.79 to settle the attorney general's investigation. As governor, it will be up to Spitzer to decide whether to ask the state Senate to remove Hevesi from office because of the scandal.

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