Disgraced political consultant Hank Morris was frog-marched off to jail yesterday without so much as a kiss goodbye from his bawling wife as a judge sentenced him to up to four years for orchestrating a $19 million kickback scheme involving the state's strained-to-the-breaking-point pension fund.Morris pal Charles Schumer, who called Morris a "straight shooter," was unavailable for comment.
The bailiffs guarding Morris, who last year pleaded guilty to masterminding the influence-peddling scheme, pointedly denied his request for a final embrace with his near-hysterical wife, Leslie Morris.
"I love you. I love everybody. I'll see you soon," Hank Morris, almost blubbering himself, shouted to his wife and family before he was hauled off in handcuffs to start his 1 1/3- to four-year sentence.
Two rows packed with Morris family members and supporters wept as the former top aide to disgraced state Comptroller Alan Hevesi was led away.
His attorney's last-ditch plea for an extra week of freedom had also been denied.
"No. It's time to go. You're remanded," barked Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Lewis Bart Stone, rejecting Morris' plea for time to get his affairs in order.
Morris, 57, pleaded guilty last November to securities fraud, admitting that he used his political connections to squeeze millions of dollars in payouts from financial firms looking for a piece of the state's $125 billion pension fund in a classic "pay-to-play" scheme.
Firms that refused to pay the bribes found it near impossible to do business with the pension fund, investigators found.
"I'm sorry if I let you down," Morris told the judge before he was sentenced. "Simply put, my actions undermined the integrity of New York state and, more importantly, made [the public] question their faith in government . . . For too long, I was blind.
"Words cannot express my remorse."
Among the prominent money managers who played along with Morris' scheme was Steven Rattner, the Wall Street financier who led President Obama's restructuring of the auto industry and who also served as an investment adviser to Mayor Bloomberg. Rattner ended up settling a civil suit from the state for $16.2 million.
A total of $170 million in civil penalties were paid by financial firms, including politically connected companies like the Carlyle Group.
Eight people so far have pleaded guilty to criminal charges from the case.
TRUMP'S BUDGET CUTS: Fair and Long Past Due
10 hours ago