Guilty Plea Expected by Ex-New York Comptroller Hevesi in Corruption Case

Alan G. Hevesi, the former state comptroller, is poised to plead guilty to a felony corruption charge after a lengthy investigation into his office’s rewarding of pension investment business to firms that provided financial benefits to Mr. Hevesi and his aides, people with knowledge of the case said.

Barring an 11th-hour change of heart, Mr. Hevesi will become the highest-ranking state official convicted in the case and most likely to serve time in prison: In 2006, he pleaded guilty to a separate felony after admitting he had used state workers to chauffeur his ailing wife, but avoided jail time in that case after he agreed to resign.

The pension investigation, conducted by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, is one of the longest running in Albany and came to symbolize the ethically troubled culture of the capital. It focused on allegations that Mr. Hevesi’s friends, family and associates sold access to the state’s $125 billion pension fund, one of the world’s largest, to reward allies, pay back political favors and reap millions of dollars for themselves.

The deal comes as Mr. Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor, is seeking to burnish his credentials as a reformer who can clean up state government, and his office has been anxious to secure a plea from Mr. Hevesi.

Mr. Hevesi has long maintained that he did not know of the wrongdoing taking place among his subordinates, and he was not formally implicated in the early stages of the scandal.

But last December, a California money manager, Elliott Broidy, admitted paying nearly $1 million in gifts in exchange for a $250 million investment from the pension fund. Mr. Broidy, according to the attorney general’s office, paid at least $75,000 to send a “very high-ranking” official in the comptroller’s office and the official’s relatives on five trips to Israel, including first-class airfare, luxury hotel accommodations and a security detail. The high-ranking official was Alan Hevesi, people with knowledge of the investigation have said.

A guilty plea by Mr. Hevesi would not end the broader investigation. His former political consultant and confidante, Hank Morris, was indicted last year on 123 counts; he has denied wrongdoing and remains determined to fight the charges.

Also unresolved is the fate of Steven J. Rattner, the New York financier who led the Obama administration’s rescue of the auto industry. This year, the Quadrangle Group, the investment fund Mr. Rattner founded, paid $12 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks to win pension fund business, and said it was publicly disavowing conduct engaged in by Mr. Rattner.