"Morris associate to plead guilty to fraud: report
(Reuters) - New York's attorney general may soon announce that an associate of Henry Morris, a top fund raiser for the state's former comptroller, has pleaded guilty to securities fraud and is cooperating with investigations, the Wall Street Journal said.
Julio Ramirez has pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to announce civil charges against him, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.
The so-called "pay to play" scheme has ensnared Morris, who is accused of taking kickbacks to help investment firms win business with New York State's pension fund.
State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo earlier this month expanded a probe, which the SEC has joined, aimed at stamping out graft and "pay to play" practices involving gifts or campaign donations to win state and local government contracts.
Ramirez has pleaded guilty to charges related to dealings between Morris and a Los Angeles-based placement agent firm called Wetherly Capital Group, and Dallas-based Aldus Equity Partners, according to the paper.
New York's pension fund sued Aldus last week, charging that it took part in a kickback scheme.
Cuomo's office could not be reached immediately by Reuters after business hours, and an SEC spokesman did not immediately respond to an e-mail.
(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky in Bangalore, Editing by Maureen Bavdek)"