Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi was sentenced Friday to 1 to 4 years in prison for his leading role in influence-peddling at the state's massive pension fund, capping a two-part downfall that made him an emblem of corruption in New York politics.

Hevesi, a Democrat forced from office by a separate misconduct scandal in 2006, apologized to New Yorkers as he waited to learn his punishment for giving preferential treatment to a would-be pension fund money manager in exchange for free travel and other plums.

"Although it was never my intention, I know that I caused enormous damage to the integrity of my former office. I have publicly disgraced myself," Hevesi said, his voice soft but steady. "I have only myself to blame. . . . "I will never forgive myself. I will live with this shame for the rest of my life."

The 71-year-old walked out of court in handcuffs, looking back briefly at the roughly half-dozen relatives who accompanied him, including his sons, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and former state Sen. Daniel Hevesi, and his daughter, Laura.

The sentencing concluded a comedown that stood out even in a state rife with scandal, and it marked a milestone in then-state Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo's sweeping probe of "pay-to-play" practices at the $141 billion retirement pool, which Alan Hevesi oversaw as comptroller.

Hevesi, also a former state assemblyman and New York City comptroller, was the highest-ranking state official entangled in the pension fund investigation.

He pleaded guilty in October to a felony misconduct charge.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus gave Hevesi a sentence that will be the maximum for his crime if he serves it all.

The range reflects the possibility of parole. With credit for good behavior, Hevesi can apply for parole in 10 months, according to the state Department of Correctional Services.

Hevesi was taken to a medium-security prison in Napanoch, about 100 miles north of Manhattan, the correction department said.

Hevesi admitted that in awarding pension fund investments, he "improperly favored" a venture capitalist who paid for at least $75,000 worth of travel expenses to Israel and Italy for the comptroller, his family and other officials.

Hevesi also acknowledged roughly $900,000 in other favors the businessman did for him or others in his orbit, including a total of $500,000 in campaign contributions to Hevesi and other candidates he or his staff suggested.

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