ALBANY -- Even after a year in jail, former New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi says arrogance and a sense of entitlement born of rubbing elbows with billionaires and world leaders kept him from admitting it was wrong to take gifts and campaign contributions in return for access to the state's massive and lucrative pension fund.
A visit from his three adult children shortly after he was denied parole the first time last year finally changed his mind.
"They are loving, they are loyal, supported me, stood by me all the way through this and then beat me up, verbally beat me up, because I was in denial about what really occurred," he told a parole board last week, according to a transcript released yesterday.
"When you sit in prison, you have a lot of time to think, analyze different elements of this crime, some of which I tried to minimize because I could make the case maybe this was not a crime, this was not so severe and so on," he told the panel gathered at Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy. "Now that was the process where I reached some conclusion that I would like to share with you. . . . This is what my kids drew out of me."
Hevesi was granted parole last week after spending 19 months in prison for accepting gifts and campaign donations from people trying to do business with the state pension fund. As comptroller, Hevesi was sole trustee of the fund, now valued at nearly $150 billion. He pleaded guilty to official misconduct in 2010 and was sentenced to 1 to 4 years in prison.
"I got arrogant," he said. "Not arrogant that I treated people like British nobles and how they treat their servants, not like that, but that I am entitled."
Hevesi, 72, will be released by Dec. 19, with parole supervision to follow until April 14, 2015.