Disgraced Pol’s Appeal Denied By Appeals Court — Pensions May Be Seized

Eric Stevenson, ex-Bronx assemblyman. (Credit: assembly.state.ny.us)

Today, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit denied disgraced former Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson’s appeal of his federal trial judge’s order seizing his pension contributions assets that can be used to pay his $22,000 restitution penalty.

Second Circuit Court ruling permits the Federal government to seize pension funds from the ex-New York lawmaker (and other pols) convicted of corruption.

“Stevenson argues that identifying his pension plan contributions as a substitute asset and permitting seizure by the Government was [in] error as those contributions are protected by… the New York State Constitution,” said the three-judge panel. “We disagree,” the judges ruled.

Preet Bharara

Preet Bharara, US Attorney Southern District of NY

US Attorney Preet Bharara — whose office successfully prosecuted Stevenson and his co-defendants — tweeted, “Convicted politicians should lose pensions paid for by taxpayers they betrayed.”

Decision lays the legal framework for garnishing the pensions of convicted former lawmakers such as ex-Majority Leader Dean Skelos and ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The two men were convicted in separate trials and were sentenced to prison earlier this year.  Skelos and Silver were order to pay separate fines of $500,000 and $1.75 million, respectively. Both men are home awaiting the outcome of their appeals, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the conviction of ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Since Stevenson wasn’t vested in the NYS retirement system, the feds may only take his pension contribution refund to recoup his ill-gotten gains. The Court also reaffirmed Stevenson’s 36-month sentence which he is currently serving after his conviction for extortion and taking bribes in 2014.

The decision clears the way for the feds to seize the pension of ex-senator Malcolm (D-Queens) who was also arrested on corruption charges in 2013. Federal prosecutors had already won the right to garnish a portion of disgraced ex-senator Pedro Espada’s pension when he defaulted on repaying his restitution and fine.

Stevenson, a Democrat who represented Morrisania, Crotona Park East, Claremont and Concourse Village, served two terms in the state assembly before being arrested on federal corruption charges in 2013.

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