Guy Velella, a Politician Brought Down By Ethical Lapses, Dies at 66

Guy J. Velella, a former Republican state senator from the Bronx and an influential figure in Albany until he pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy seven years ago, died Thursday at a hospice in the Bronx. He was 66.

His death, after a long struggle with lung cancer, was confirmed by the Ralph Giordano Funeral Home. At the family’s request, it declined to provide additional information, including a list of survivors.
His family declined to comment.

Senator Velella served in the Legislature for 28 years, the first 10 as an assemblyman. He was regularly re-elected in the 34th State Senate District, which includes portions of Westchester County, even though it has an electorate with a 2-to-1 Democratic advantage.

Mr. Velella, who was also chairman of the Bronx Republican Party, was responsible for pushing through several important insurance law changes. He sponsored legislation mandating coverage for a two-day hospital stay for mothers who have just given birth and forcing insurers to pay for longer hospital stays after mastectomies. As chairman of the State Senate’s Labor Committee, he was also the prime sponsor of legislation to raise the minimum wage.

But he was dogged by charges of ethical laxity. During the 1990s, his law firm was given hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal work by giants in the insurance industry while he headed the committee that oversaw legislation affecting them.

And in May 2004, he resigned from the Senate as part of a plea bargain with the Manhattan district attorney’s office after being indicted on charges of taking bribes to help people win lucrative state contracts. His father and law partner, Vincent J. Velella, was also indicted, but as part of the agreement was not prosecuted.

In the indictment, Mr. Velella and his father were accused of taking payments from companies they had represented as lawyers in exchange for helping them obtain state bridge-painting contracts.

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