Ex-chief of state Liberal Party avoids jail time

May 18, 2011 9:25:01 AM PDT
Ray Harding, the onetime head of the Liberal Party, received a no jail sentence Wednesday morning for his role in the state pension fund pay-to-play scandal.

Harding pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor and will receive no jail time if he stays out of trouble for a year.

Harding confessed to pocketing more than $800,000 in the scandal.

The arrangement was part of a plea deal made with former Attorney General and now Governor Andrew Cuomo, which dismissed more serious charges.

Cuomo issued the following statement:

"Today's sentencing of former Liberal Party boss Ray Harding is a reminder that those who partner with corrupt public officials can no longer rely on the defense of business as usual in Albany. While the judge spared him prison time due to his health, Harding now has a criminal record, has lost his law license, and can never reapply to the bar or do business with the State again.

"Harding is the eighth conviction in the case, joining former Chief Investment Officer David Loglisci and chief political consultant Hank Morris, and Comptroller Alan Hevesi himself, who was sentenced to jail, and we recovered $170 million for the people and the State pension fund.

"When public integrity is eroded, we all pay the price. We must be vigilant in rooting out corruption and we must change the rules of engagement in Albany to bring transparency and accountability to those who serve the public trust."