“I got the mail, nothing,” Turano told Kruger in one wiretap.
“I told him that,” Kruger said. “He said, should be.”
Kruger was suspicious he was being watched. The Feds had been after several lawmakers in Albany for all types of criminal shenanigans. After a lobbyist sent him an e-mail, Kruger called, paranoid.
“The e-mails … I mean … no good,” Kruger said. “I thought we were anti-e-mails?”
“I thought it was innocuous,” the lobbyist replied.
“All e-mails are never innocuous,” Kruger said, “even the weather report.”
On Bassett Avenue, the Feds watched Kruger’s empty Cadillac as it was parked outside the Turano home and listened as tensions in his extended family peaked. A month before Kruger and Michael were indicted, according to the wiretaps, it was revealed that Kruger had once told Gerard that he’d been infatuated with his brother since they met. As Michael recalled the conversation to Kruger, Kruger told Gerard how “ ‘from the day I walked into the T’ … you told me this … ‘you loved me and you wanted me.’ ”
According to the Feds, Gerard didn’t take the admission well. It must have been fair for Gerard to wonder: Was Kruger using himself and his mother Dottie all along to get close to Michael?
While the Feds proffered only snippets of Kruger’s talks, and without context, Kruger was apparently upset that Gerard was considering distancing himself from Kruger and his family. In a conversation with Dottie, Kruger sounded like a mob boss discussing the departure of a low-level soldier.
“What, [Gerard’s] going to be the beneficiary of my work?” Kruger said, according to the wiretap. “I made life easier for the two of you, and he is going to be the beneficiary of it? No, it was supposed to be we were gonna all share in the benefits of it.”
In Albany, Kruger seemed more aloof than ever. One lawmaker recalled running into Kruger in the elevator. Kruger had a grumpy, dour look on his face, and the lawmaker asked him about it.
Kruger shook his head. “You don’t know what my life is like,” he said.
Kruger and Michael Turano will be sentenced in late April. The former senator faces as many as 50 years in prison, but it’s unlikely the judge will sentence him to more than ten years. Turano faces as many as five years in prison. As part of the guilty plea, Kruger and Turano arranged the deal in such a way that the Feds agreed not to prosecute Turano for failing to file taxes on the bribe payments he collected. It was the ultimate gesture: a father taking the fall for his son.
In his lawyer Brafman’s office, I asked Kruger once again why he engaged in such a blatant kickback scheme, knowing as he did that the Feds had been investigating so many Albany pols recently.
Brafman objected to the question: “We don’t know,” he said. “He violated the law, he admitted it, he’s accepted responsibility.* I think it would take years of therapy to figure out where the compass went off its course. I don’t know how much further beyond that it gets. We’ve talked about this for months and months.”
“There’s no one day,” Kruger said. “There’s no one incident.”
“There’s no one moment you decide you’re going to become a corrupt politician,” Brafman said. “It happened, and his biggest regret was not only violating the trust of his constituents but getting Michael involved in this horror show. I don’t want him to wax philosophic now on why good people commit crimes.”
The conversation veered, as it often does with Kruger, to his mother, Irene, a woman to whom he spent his entire life proving he was worthy enough to keep. He still lives in the same house, the same room, with the same bed set and wallpaper. He sleeps only a few hours a night, and with the light on. He still visits his mother’s grave most Sundays.
“Go to the cemetery,” he said. “I want you to read the inscription on the stone. It says, ‘Your image will be a guiding light to me on the path of virtue, and someday when that pilgrimage is over, we’ll be home together again.’ ”
I asked him if the reason he went to so much effort to make himself invaluable to the Turano family, to sell his office in order to keep them flush, was because he simply wanted to be wanted.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe you need to come out of a cardboard box. Maybe then you would figure it out too.”
*This article has been corrected to show that Brafman said Kruger admitted to violating the law, not submitted.