That fabulous image of former state senate leader Joe Bruno as the silver-maned, horse-riding, man’s man, the ex-boxer who always looked like he could (and would) drop Shelly Silver with a half-punch – even at the age of 80 – took another beating yesterday in Albany.
This time it wasn’t just the steady jabs from the witness stand by business execs and union officials who have already told the jury in federal court how Bruno leaned on them to do business with firms that were paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees.
This one, coming in Round 10 of the trial, was much worse: His longtime executive secretary testified that even after she took care of everything from balancing his checkbook to buying his family Christmas presents, he still treated her lousy.
“He was demeaning. Very degrading,” was how Patricia Stackrow put it.
As a result, Stackrow, 66, did what any self-respecting and much-abused executive assistant might do: she dipped into his checking account a little for herself.
Prosecutors didn’t detail how much Stackrow – who testified under immunity – swiped. And she clammed up on the witness stand about why she did it. She had to hear her own words to the grand jury read back to her to be reminded that she had said she was looking for a little payback for her boss’s disrespect.
When she was serving as Bruno’s $100,000 a year executive assistant on the state salary, Stackrow was known as the “gatekeeper” to one of Albany’s three top powerbrokers. Bruno didn’t sweat the small stuff: He had Stackrow handle all his private business as well, everything from his horse-breeding partnership with a couple of pals eager for state favors to preparing his taxes.
“I did a lot of his personal business,” she said on the stand.
Prosecutors have another dozen witnesses to go. The champ is looking winded.