By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Justice Lewis Bart Stone, who
oversaw cases resulting from a probe into corruption at New
York's state pension fund, plans to retire at the end of the
Stone, 74, said he was leaving New York State Supreme Court
because of his age.
Stone drew attention last year while presiding over a case
against former New York state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who
pleaded guilty to accepting gifts from a fund managing New York
state pension fund money.
Hevesi's attorney, Bradley Simon, said at the time the judge
had a conflict of interest and should not sentence Hevesi. Stone
was a trustee and executor of the estate of Simon's estranged
father, and Simon said he feared the relationship might affect
the sentencing. Stone called the notion of a conflict
"meritless" but transferred the Hevesi sentencing to another
Asked on Wednesday whether scrutiny of his actions had
influenced his decision to retire, Stone said, "It's just time
to go at this point. It's voluntary."
Simon declined to comment.
New York State Supreme Court justices who meet certain
criteria are eligible for three two-year extensions between the
ages of 70 and 76. In Stone's case, he received two extensions
and elected to not pursue the third.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser will take
over Stone's cases in January, Administrative Judge Michael Obus
Before 2009, Stone was an acting justice appointed by then
chief administrative judge Jonathan Lippman, now the state's
chief judge. Stone was appointed to the Court of Claims in 2000
by the governor at the time, George Pataki.
Since 2009, Stone has presided over cases stemming from
former New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo's wide-ranging
investigation of corruption at the New York state Retirement
Fund. Eight people pleaded guilty, including Hevesi, who was
sentenced to one to four years in prison. He is scheduled to be
paroled this month.
Stone sentenced the last remaining defendant in the pension
fund corruption probe on Wednesday. He gave Saul Meyer, a
founder of Dallas-based Aldus Equity Partners, a conditional
discharge. Meyer pleaded guilty in 2009 to a felony for his role
in the scheme.
Last week, Stone presided over the arraignment of a New York
nanny accused in the stabbing death of two young children in her
Yoselyn Ortega pleaded not guilty through her attorney at
the arraignment, held in a New York hospital where she is being
treated for self-inflicted wounds. Stone ordered her held
without bail while she undergoes a psychiatric exam.
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