Tag Archives: bribery

Former Councilman Daniel Halloran wanted to secure City Hall posts for Republicans: report


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

During the White Plains federal corruption trial of state Sen. Malcolm Smith, jurors on Wednesday heard a secretly-taped recording of former City Councilman Daniel Halloran telling an undercover agent that Republicans should get at least half of the city’s top appointments, according to a published report.

Halloran, a Queens Republican, is accused of plotting a $200,000 bribery scheme to make Smith the GOP candidate for mayor.

“It comes down to what is it that you need first?” the agent, who went by the name “Raj” said in the recording taken on Feb. 8, 2013 at the Essex House in Manhattan, the New York Post reported.

“The first dep and a guarantee on the agency heads being split in the party,” Halloran said in the recording. “If he goes to City Hall and … cuts the baby in half so to speak, he plays Solomon, everything, everything works out.”

Halloran goes on to say that Republicans should get half of the 115 mayor-appointed commissioner, deputy commissioner and first assistant posts. He also demanded that Raj convince Smith, if elected as a Republican, to appoint Republicans to judicial positions, giving the conservative party influence in City Hall and “make things happen” for politically friendly developers at the Board of Standards and Appeals and the Buildings Department.

Smith made the failed bid to secure the 2013 Republican mayoral primary line by bribing Halloran and then-Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph “Jay” Savino, prosecutors alleged.

 

Taxi dispatchers busted for allegedly taking cash bribes at JFK


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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Sixteen men, including seven Queens residents, have been charged with illegally taking cash bribes in a taxi-dispatching scheme at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), officials announced Wednesday.

The taxi dispatchers, who were employed by the Port Authority of New York  & New Jersey subcontractor Gateway Group One Frontline Services, were busted in an undercover operation following an anonymous tip, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

They are accused of accepting cash bribes to rig the dispatching system at JFK so taxi drivers could “basically ‘cut the line’ and get ahead,” Brown said.

At the airport, dispatchers regulate the taxis between a central holding location and the terminal pick-up area, according to the district attorney. The average wait time in the holding area is about two to three hours. When a dispatcher gives taxis a fare to nearby locations, such as Queens or Brooklyn, drivers receive a Short Haul, or “shorty,” ticket, which allows them to skip the central holding area and go directly to the terminal to pick-up passengers, Brown said.

The accused men allegedly accepted ten dollar cash payments to allow undercover cab operators to bypass long lines without waiting in the central holding area even though they did not have shorty tickets.

The sixteen accused dispatchers are currently waiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, each of which is punishable by up to one year in jail, according to the district attorney.

 

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Sen. Malcolm Smith’s lawyer wants federal corruption trial delayed


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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State Senator Malcolm Smith wants his federal corruption trial delayed, as he runs for re-election and awaits a judge’s decision to dismiss some charges, his lawyer said.

He and former Councilmember Dan Halloran will return to court Feb. 28.

The pair and four others were accused last April of conspiring with the city’s Republican Party leaders to allow Smith, a Democrat, to run for mayor as a Republican.

Federal prosecutors said Halloran negotiated payoffs and set up meetings between Smith and the county bosses, allegedly pocketing thousands in the process.

Lawyers for the two say the act is not considered bribery under New York state law.

A judge will soon decide on motions to throw out some of the charges, said Smith’s attorney, Gerald Shargel.

“It’s progressing in the normal course,” Shargel said.

Smith’s lawyer also wants the trial delayed until after this year’s Democratic primary to give the southeast Queens politician a fighting chance at re-election.

The primary is expected to take place in September, while the trial is scheduled to begin in June.

Two challengers, attorneys Clyde Vanel and Munir Avery, have already surfaced to unseat Smith.

“I don’t think that he would otherwise have a fair opportunity to present his position to his constituents,” Shargel said.

The lawyer plans to submit a written request to the court Feb. 7, he said.

Meanwhile, another co-defendant in the massive bribery scandal has pleaded guilty.

Joseph Desmaret, the former Spring Valley deputy mayor, confessed to accepting about $10,500 in cash bribes from an undercover FBI agent, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty Jan. 29 in White Plains federal court and faces up to 40 years in prison. He is slated for sentencing May 22.

Former Bronx Republican chair Joseph “Jay” Savino pleaded guilty in connection to the case last November.

Other co-defendants, former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone and Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, say they are innocent.

 

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Leaders call for changing of the guard in Queens GOP


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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Former Republican Councilmember Thomas Ognibene says there needs to be a change-up in the Queens GOP after years of infighting and what he called a negative influence by former vice chair Vince Tabone.

“I’ve believed for the last three to four years that it [leadership] had to be changed,” said Ognibene, who served in the Council from 1991 to 2001 and was the minority leader.

Tabone is charged with accepting $40,000 in bribe money to sign the Wilson Pakula certificate, to greenlight State Senator Malcolm Smith as a Republican for mayor. He resigned as vice chair on Wednesday, April 3, a day after his arrest.

Phil Ragusa currently chairs the Queens GOP.

The ideal person to replace Ragusa if he were to step down, Ognibene and others have said, would be former Congressmember Bob Turner, who lost a Republican U.S. Senate primary last summer and whose congressional district was cut up thanks to redistricting.

On calls to step down, Ragusa said he does not plan on giving up his position, as he’s not linked to the charges.

“We’re just moving ahead,” he said. “One person should not be able to affect the whole Queens GOP.”

Ognibene, now practicing law on Long Island, said the allegation that Tabone frisked a cooperating witness for a microphone was proof he was up to no good.

“That’s evidence of a guilty conscious,” Ognibene said.

Ragusa and Ognibene came into a leadership battle two years ago when a sect of the party voted to elect the latter as the GOP chair. A separate pact voted for Ragusa at the same time, with a judge finally ruling that Ragusa was rightful leader of the party.

While he was saddened by the allegations against Councilmember Dan Halloran, Ognibene said the alleged actions of some shouldn’t reflect on the GOP as a whole and “the Party will go on.”

A replacement for Tabone has not yet been named, Ragusa said.

“We’re going through our process and we haven’t named anybody right now,” he said.

 

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