FBI Arrests NY Senator & GOP Leaders in Bribery Plot to Rig Mayor Race
Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith was busted Tuesday with City Councilman Dan Halloran in a plot to pay cash for a spot on the GOP mayoral ballot — and a better shot at City Hall.
FBI agents arrested four other suspects, including Bronx Republican Chairman Jay Savino and Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone, after the alleged corruption was exposed by federal officials.
The two party leaders allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for helping Smith pursue his never-realized run for City Hall.
A shocking series of surreptitiously taped conversation caught Smith and Halloran bluntly discussing the crooked deal.
"You can't do anything without the f------ money," Halloran declared in one chat. "Money is what greases the wheels — good, bad or indifferent."
Halloran, during an Oct. 27 meeting with an undercover FBI agent, even raised his glass in a toast after collecting $6,500 in campaign checks and promising a $20,000 payback in City Council funds
State Sen. Malcolm Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Hasmin and deputy mayor Joseph Desmaret and two others were arrested Tuesday morning as part of a federal bribery investigation.
The six defendants were involved in three bribery schemes that saw tens of thousands of dollars change hands, according to the FBI.
Smith and Halloran were reportedly plotting to rig this year's New York City mayoral election through fraud and bribes.
The pair allegedly formed an alliance built on cash payments and fraud to get Smith - one of the state's top Democrats - placed on the GOP mayoral ballot.
FBI agents arrested them both at their Queens homes shortly after 6 a.m.
Investigators claim that Halloran was paid more than $20,000 to arrange bribe payments to Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino and Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone so they would support getting Smith on the ballot.
Smith would need the Republican party's support in at least three boroughs in order to run as a GOP candidate without changing his own party affiliation
After a series of meetings to negotiate the price for their approval, Savino and Tabone each met with Halloran and an undercover informant—at separate times, in the same restaurant—to receive payoffs.
FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos issued a statement saying: "Elected officials are called public servants because they are supposed to serve the people. Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment...As alleged, these defendants did not obey the law; they broke the law and the public trust. There is a price to pay for that kind of betrayal."
In August, Smith confirmed to Fox 5 News that he was considering running for mayor of New York City on the Republican line.
Smith represents a liberal part of Queens but he supports the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program and expanding charter schools.
Smith said he was focused on his reelection to the state Senate, but after that may consider running for mayor. He said he had spoken to some GOP leaders about it.
The FBI says that Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret conspired to rig the sale of a parcel of Spring Valley property.
Smith was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under federal corruption charges by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The federal complaint alleged that Smith attempted to secure a spot on the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral election through bribery. New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and two other Republican officials were also arrested.