Manny Aragon, 63, served in the New Mexico legislature for close to 30 years. Born in one of the poorest areas of the state, Aragon, a Democrat, rose to Senate President Pro Tempore. New Mexico state legislators don't draw a base salary, but Aragon still lived large. His sprawling open-air castle, complete with a bell tower, turrets and spiral staircases, attracted most of Aragon's attention, until he was accused of public corruption. Aragon was allegedly caught plotting with other officials and contractors to defraud the state of $4.4 million by inflating the cost of the construction of a new metro courthouse and skimming the extra money.
Aragon pled guilty in 2008 on charges of fraud and conspiracy. Aragon was sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison in March 2009. All but one of his codefendants pled guilty.
Joe Bruno, 81, survived many political battles in his 31 years in the New York legislature, including 14 as leader of the GOP's senate majority. He was only indicted after he'd retired from elective politics. In 2009, less than a year after resigning from the senate, he was charged with receiving undisclosed gifts of $3.2 million from financial services firms, labor unions and individuals. Bruno had allegedly misidentified these payments as "consulting fees" to avoid reporting them as gifts to the ethics commission. In one case, Bruno was found guilty of disguising a gift by selling the donor a horse the government dubbed "virtually worthless" for $80,000.
Bruno was acquitted on some charges, but convicted on two counts of "honest services" fraud, which is related more to conflicts of interest than to direct bribes or kickbacks. A June 2010 Supreme Court decision limited the scope of the "honest services" law, affecting the convictions in the prominent cases of Conrad Black, Jeffrey Skilling and Joe Bruno. Bruno is out of jail while his case is on appeal.
Jim Black, now 75, served 22 years in the North Carolina General Assembly and tied the record for longest tenure as speaker of the state's lower chamber at nearly eight years. But scandal ended his chance to break the record. When a group of chiropractors offered the Mecklenburg County Democrat $25,000 while their professional organization had legislation pending in the House, Black didn't say no. Black resigned from the state legislature in 2007, one day before pleading guilty to public corruption.
Black was sentenced to five years in federal prison. He was released earlier this month in order to finish his sentence in a halfway house or under house arrest.
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Mike Duvall's downfall came during an otherwise dull July 2009 appropriations meeting in the California General Assembly. Duvall launched into a commentary about sex and underwear, not legislation and budgets.
The second-term Republican from Yorba Linda apparently hadn't realized his microphone was still on in the minutes before the televised session was to start. On the recording, Duvall explicitly describes his lover's underwear and penchant for being spanked. At the time, Duvall was married with two children.
Duvall resigned in September 2009. He announced his resignation on his web site, and apologized for his "inappropriate comments."