Queens political fixture Alan Hevesi, who served two decades in the Assembly and as city and state comptroller before resigning over a corruption scandal, died Thursday in his Nassau County home at age 83.
“Alan passed away peacefully surrounded by his children and loved ones after a prolonged illness,” Hevesi’s family said in a statement. “We will miss him and his laughter more than words can express.”
Current state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Hevesi’s successor, praised him in a Thursday social media post.
“Former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was a long-serving public servant and educator,” DiNapoli wrote. “He cared deeply about Queens, fiercely debated issues he cared about and fought hard for school fiscal accountability.”
Hevesi was first elected to the Assembly in 1971 and represented the Forest Hills section of Queens in Albany’s lower chamber for 22 years.
He then ran for city comptroller in 1993, unseating former city Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman in the Democratic primary and overcoming Republican and Liberal line candidate Herman Badillo in the general election.
As the Big Apple’s numbers guru, Hevesi successfully blocked former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani from selling off the city’s municipal water system to the semi-independent New York City Water Board for $2.3 billion.
Facing term limits, Hevesi ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2001.
The next year, Hevesi ran for state comptroller and won. In that position, he launched the office’s first investigations unit.
But Hevesi did not finish his first term as the state’s chief money man. He resigned in 2006 after he was found guilty by a state ethics panel of unlawfully directing a government employee to drive his disabled and chronically sick mother around in a state vehicle.
After leaving office, Hevesi pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that he engaged in a pay-to-play scheme while in office and was sentenced to one-to-four years in prison. He was released on parole after 20 months behind bars.
Brooklyn City Council Member Justin Brannan wrote on social media that Hevesi was a “friend and early mentor” to him.
“Always the smartest guy in the room but still a tough kid from Forest Hills who never forgot where he came from,” Brannan wrote. “As comptroller, he used the power of the purse for good before that was a thing. He was a friend and early mentor of mine. Rest in peace, Alan.”
Hevesi is survived by his wife, Carol, and three children — among them Queens Democratic Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi.