FBI agents arrested New York state Sen. Malcolm Smith and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran in their Queens homes early Tuesday on charges of trying to rig this year’s mayoral election.
According to The New York Post,
the pair was allegedly plotting to get Smith, a top Democrat in the state, placed on the Republican ballot.
Both were arrested shortly after 6 a.m. Halloran reportedly said he had no idea why he was being arrested. Smith offered no comment.
“Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment,” FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a written statement. “People in New York, in Spring Valley — in any city or town in this country — rightly expect their elected or appointed representatives to hold themselves to a higher standard. 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.”
The Post reported that federal agents also raided the homes of Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino and Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, arresting them on charges of wire fraud and bribery for allegedly agreeing to accept bribes to have Smith placed on the GOP ballot.
Authorities also made arrests in Rockland County related to the case, taking in Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, according to Newsday and other sources. They were accused by the FBI of accepting bribes in the sale of Spring Valley village land to a holding company — represented by an undercover FBI agent, according to Newsday. Jasmin had a hidden financial stake in the company, according to Newsday and the Post.
The complaint says Smith was to get state funding to upgrade a road that would be useful to the Spring Valley real estate project by meeting with an elected official who represented the area, according to Newsday.
All six were to appear in federal court in White Plains later Tuesday, the newspaper said.
Smith was allegedly seeking the Republican Party’s support in at least three boroughs so he could run as a GOP candidate without changing his Democratic party affiliation, sources said. To do that, he allegedly got Halloran, a Republican, to set up meetings with party leaders and negotiate bribes, which were marked as payments for legal and accounting services.
Halloran is accused of collecting thousands of dollars in bribes for himself, and faces separate charges of taking bribes from a consultant in return for up to $80,000 in City Council discretionary funding, the Post said.
Federal agents were already investigating Halloran when they learned of the alleged plot with Smith, sources told the newspaper.
Smith, once considered a top candidate for mayor, is also facing scrutiny in other matters, including his ties to a Queens nonprofit, the New Direction Local Development Corp., which allegedly misused charity funds intended for Hurricane Katrina victims.
He also was allegedly involved in a scandal involving casino bid-rigging, a matter still under investigation by the FBI, the Post reported.
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