ALBANY - The state assemblyman seeking answers from two suspended Fulton County economic development officials who haven't shown after being subpoenaed for two of his hearings vowed Thursday to continue his effort.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester, commented after Thursday morning's hearings in which the state Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions he chairs tried unsuccessfully for the second time to compel the men appear.
"We will pursue this," he stated. "We will get to the truth."
Brodsky subpoenaed Fulton County Economic Development Corp. Executive Vice President Jeff Bray and Crossroads Incubator Corp. Executive Vice President Peter Sciocchetti, but neither showed for the hearing at the Legislative Office Building.
The committee is investigating hefty bonuses doled out the last few years to Bray and Sciocchetti that their respective volunteer boards say they didn't know about.
Bray and Sciocchetti failed to show June 29 before the committee after receiving subpoenas. This time, their lawyers wrote letters to Brodsky saying their clients were invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Brodsky said Bray attorney Michael L. Koenig's request to have Bray testify in a written form would still open his client up to self-incrimination.
In a letter written back Thursday to Koenig and Sciocchetti attorney Peter J. Moschetti Jr., Brodsky wrote, "The committee will consider its remedies with respect to Mr. Bray's and Mr. Sciocchetti' defiance of the subpoenas."
Brodsky is investigating bonuses paid to Bray and Sciocchetti that totaled about $1 million for each man between 2007 and 2009, according to tax records.
The two executives have been suspended without pay while the matter is investigated.
Koenig wrote to Brodsky, "Given certain of your comments to the print and television media, press releases from your office, and your June 25 statement during our call that if I 'want a problem for the guy [Mr. Bray], have him take the fifth,' I sincerely hope that you do not portray, interpret or suggest that Mr. Bray's invocation of his constitutional rights is improper or indicative of any wrongdoing."
Moschetti wrote to Brodsky, "Although Mr. Sciocchetti has a strong desire to testify about matters raised by you concerning his work at [CIC], as his counsel, I have advised him not to based on my observation of the way the hearings have been conducted and the opinions you have personally expressed ..."
"With respect to compliance with the subpoenas, several issues arise," Brodsky wrote back to the lawyers. "First, the subpoena commands the production of documents. Your letters are silent on that matter and the committee concludes that Mr. Bray and Mr. Sciocchetti are defying the subpoena with respect to document production.
"Second, the assertion of a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is a testimonial privilege that can be asserted against questions that would require a witness to make admissions or statements that could be used in a criminal prosecution," he wrote. "It is not a privilege against questions that do not require such admissions, or against appearance in the forum for compliance with the subpoena. It is only at that forum, after a question is posed, that the privilege is asserted.
"Third, the testimony and documents that go to the heart of the events under inquiry are uniquely in the possession of Mr. Bray and Mr. Sciocchetti," Brodsky wrote. "The Legislature is considering bills which are intended to end abuses of the 'bonus' process. We have received documents and testimony from a number of parties that is apparently contested by your clients. The matters include but are not limited to the pathways of such arrangements, the knowledge of responsible parties, and the theory and execution of such payments. We intend to pursue that information."
EDC and CIC officials said Thursday a long-awaited report regarding the bonuses matter could be issued soon to the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.
Board Chairman Greg Fagan today asked the public to be patient in waiting for the EDC-CIC issue to be sorted out.
"I think that's all anyone can do," he said.
Fagan said that unfortunately, the legal process this summer has dragged down the issue and attempts at getting to the truth.