Ex-Sen. Spano seeks leniency on tax charge

Ex-State Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Westchester, works at his Ex-State Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Westchester, works at his desk on the New York State Senate floor in this file photo. (April 20, 2005) Photo Credit: AP

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Former state Sen. Nicholas Spano is asking a federal judge to spare him from serving a year or more in federal prison and sentence him instead to six months in jail and community service.

Spano, 58, is scheduled to be sentenced June 18 by U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel in White Plains for his guilty plea to tax evasion charges.

In a two-page letter to the judge, Spano said he will forever be known as a "former senator, convicted felon."

"There is no punishment that you or anyone else can impose on me that would hurt more than knowing that this, too, will be part of my legacy," he wrote.

Spano's lawyer Kerry Lawrence submitted court papers asking Seibel to sentence Spano below the recommended federal guideline range of 12 to 18 months in prison, citing his legislative record and the fact that he will have repaid the more than $50,000 he owed in state and federal taxes.

"He is, in fact, a very, very good man -- even a unique man -- whose criminal conduct is but a very small slice of what has otherwise been an honorable and well-lived life," Lawrence wrote in the 28-page memo that was accompanied by dozens of letters of support.

Federal prosecutors have not yet filed their sentencing memorandum.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara did not respond to requests for comment.

Spano, a Republican power broker from Yonkers, pleaded guilty to tax evasion on Feb. 10 in U.S. District Court in White Plains. His guilty plea came on the eve of Westchester's largest public corruption trial in more than a decade. Two of Spano's proteges, lawyer Anthony Mangone and former Yonkers GOP boss Zehy Jereis, were charged along with former Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi of scheming to sell her vote on development projects in the city.

Mangone pleaded guilty and signed a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. He testified against Jereis and Annabi, who were convicted March 29 of corruption charges.

Spano, who spent 28 years in the State Legislature before being defeated in 2006 by Democrat Andrea Stewart Cousins, admitted in his guilty plea that between 2000 and 2008 he did not report more than $45,000 in rent payments and a commission on a real estate deal as income.

Federal prosecutors also accused Spano of falsely claiming $180,000 in deductions so he wouldn't have to pay taxes on money he received as a consultant for an insurance company while he was in office.

Lawrence said Spano had received "hundreds" of letters of support following his guilty plea "attesting to the many good deeds that Mr. Spano has performed, often quietly, out of the limelight and without any expectation of credit or reward."

Among the letters of support was one from Spano's brother, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who wrote that his brother -- the oldest of 16 children -- was the one everyone else in the family "counted on."

"He has provided financial support in times of need, comfort in times of sorrow," the mayor wrote.

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