FBI Arrest State Senator Malcolm Smith in Corruption Probe
New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, along with five other politicians, are facing charges in a public corruption probe initiated by the FBI. Authorities arrested Smith and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran at their homes Tuesday morning. Officials also arrested Bronx Republican Chairman Jay Savino and Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone. Also facing charges are Noramie Jasmin, the mayor of Spring Valley, and her deputy mayor, Joseph Desmaret. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, in a statement, that Smith attempted to bribe his way to victory in the upcoming New York City mayoral race. The alleged scheme dates all the way back to 2011.
According to authorities, Halloran was responsible for finding party chairmen who were receptive to receiving bribes. The bribes were to be hidden in consulting contracts, doled out in increments of $10,000 or less. Some of the money had already been paid out by the time agents working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) put a halt to the alleged plot. Officials claim that Smith, a Democrat, attempted to buy a spot on the Republican ballot. Non-Republican candidates need the support of three of the five borough party leaders to gain access to the Republican ballot line.
The 28-page complaint, which was unsealed this morning, detailed how the FBI took down the accused. Apparently, an FBI agent posed a wealthy developer and acted as a facilitator for the politicians. The operation left agents with hours of recorded conversations and a mountain of evidence. The recordings show how Smith actively participated in the several meetings, openly talking about bribing Republican leaders. Smith also promised taxpayer funds for one of the undercover agent’s fake development projects. Authorities claim that Smith offered $500,000 in state funds to benefit the developer.
The tapes also reveal how Halloran made promises of patronage in exchange for support. Federal officials were already investigating Halloran when the plot involving Smith came to light. In one instance, Halloran promised to secure someone a job at an autism program funded by City Council money. Officials alleged that Halloran also collected numerous bribes for himself, while helping Smith. He has been charged with taking bribes from a consultant in exchange for a guarantee of $80,000 in City Council funding.
Smith spent the summer trying to garner support from Republican officials for what many considered to be an ascendant bid to replace New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Smith was elected in 2000 during a special election. He served as the Senate’s minority from 2007 to 2009, when he was forced out. Smith made headlines last summer after joining forces with Republicans to form a coalition to govern the split state Senate. Smith has previously come under fire for his connection to illegal activities, namely a non-profit that improperly used charitable funds intended for Victims of Hurricane Katrina. The FBI also investigated Smith for his connection to the Aqueduct casino bid-rigging scandal.
Smith, 56, and Halloran could face up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Tabone and Savino could face up to 25 years a piece. Noramie Jasmin and Joseph Desmaret could each face 20 years.
All six will appear in White Plains federal court.