Tag Archives: corruption trial

Comrie defeats state Sen. Malcolm Smith in landslide


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

Leroy Comrie is the de facto next state senator for District 14 after besting incumbent Malcolm Smith in the Democratic primary.

There is no Republican candidate for the seat in the upcoming November election.

Comrie, who previously represented part of the district on the City Council, ousted Smith, who is awaiting trial on federal corruption charges, in a landslide victory, earning 69.4 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results.

“I’m excited about being able to serve [District 14] in the state Senate. I was overwhelmed by the reaction from the community,” Comrie said. “It’s a gratifying win. It’s a real testament to the power of the community.”

Political supporters, such as Councilman Daneek Miller and Borough President Melinda Katz, were at Comrie’s victory party to cheer him on.

Most recently, Comrie was the deputy borough president under Katz; he stepped down to run in the District 14 primary.

Smith, who has represented the district for over a decade, was indicted for allegedly trying to bribe his way into a GOP nomination for mayor.

The trial was thrown into turmoil when prosecutors produced hours of audiotapes — many in Yiddish — that Smith’s lawyers claimed would bolster his defense.
The judge declared a mistrial and a new trial is set for January.

But Smith’s tainted reputation was enough to sway several elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Borough President Melinda Katz, to endorse Comrie over Smith.

“I’m going to do my best to be an effective legislator,” Comrie noted. “I really have to get going and make sure that the residents of the 14th District can have the things they need in the budget starting in January. [District 14] means home to me.”

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Former Councilman Halloran found guilty in bribery trial


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 11:40 a.m.

Former Queens Councilman Dan Halloran was found guilty Tuesday for his role in a bribery scheme to get Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith on the GOP ticket in last year’s mayoral race.

“With today’s verdict of guilty reached by an impartial and independent jury, the clean-up of corruption in New York continues in courtrooms,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

It took just over one hour for the jury to reach its verdict following the eight-week trial, according to published reports, and Halloran was convicted of all five counts against him. The conviction ends a trial that continued even after co-defendant Smith was released after a mistrial was declared. During the trial, Halloran also attempted, and ultimately failed, an insanity defense on the basis of a removed brain tumor in 2012, according to the New York Post.

“I was also very troubled with Mr. Halloran in terms of his candor,” White Plains Federal Court Judge Kenneth Karas said, following the verdict.

Halloran will be sentenced on Dec. 12 and faces up to 55 years in prison, according to the Post. The judge allowed Halloran to remain out on a $250,000 bond and will be subjected to home confinement with a monitoring device until he is sentenced. The 42-year-old appeared distressed after each guilty verdict was read, while his lawyer patted him on the back, according to the Daily News.

“It would be monumentally stupid of you to flee,” the judge warned.

Halloran was accused of negotiating payoffs and setting up meetings between Smith and the county bosses, allegedly pocketing thousands in the process. He had claimed he was trying to remove corruption when he took the payoffs from developer Moses Stern, a Rockland County developer who became a government informer in order to avoid a prison sentence, and the undercover FBI agent “Raj.” The bribery scheme involved around $200,000, reports said.

Assistant US Attorney Douglas Bloom said he believed Halloran lied throughout the trial and he thought the jury could see the politician’s deception, according to the Post.

“Quite frankly, he engaged in perjury,” Bloom told the judge. “The jury clearly found that. He’s a lawyer. He’s someone who took multiple oaths to tell the truth to this court, and he broke that.”

Meanwhile, Smith’s new trial is set for Jan. 5, 2015. He currently holds office and is seeking reelection. The state senator is accused of trying to bribe his way into a GOP nomination for mayor but the proceedings were declared a mistrial in June.

The mistrial was declared after it was revealed that the United States Attorney’s office failed to turn over 9,000 recorded conversations to defense lawyers until well into the trial, prompting several jurors to say that they could not wait for the defense to process the new recordings.

 

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State Sen. Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial declared a mistrial


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Judge Kenneth M. Karas declared a mistrial Tuesday in the corruption trial against state Sen. Malcolm Smith, reports said.

The decision was made after it was revealed that the United States Attorney’s office failed to turn over 9,000 recorded conversations to defense lawyers until well into the trial, prompting several jurors to say that they could not wait for the defense to process the new recordings, according to the New York Times.

The recordings, almost 300 hundred of which are in Yiddish, were made or received by Moses Stern, a Rockland County developer who became a government informer in order to avoid a prison sentence.

The case against another defendant, the Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone, was also declared a mistrial. But the case against Dan Halloran, a former councilman, will continue next week, according to the Times. A new trial date of Jan. 5, 2015 is set for Smith and Tabone.

Smith, who currently holds office and is seeking reelection, is accused of trying to bribe his way into a GOP nomination for mayor.

On  June 12, the morning before the day’s trial, federal prosecutors argued that the conversations were irrelevant to bribery crime and wire fraud with which the defendants, including Smith, are charged, the Times said. But the defense – including Smith’s lawyer Gerald L. Shargel – convinced the judge that somewhere in the recordings there might be evidence that Stern and an undercover agent entrapped the defendants. The judge decided to postpone his decision until Friday to give prosecutors a chance to show him how the recordings might be translated quickly enough for the current case to continue.

But it could take weeks to translate the Yiddish material since none of the lawyers speak Yiddish, according to the Times. And that’s something the jurors can’t wait for.

“The lawyers are working around the clock as it is, and now you’re adding a pretty substantial review of the recordings,” the judge said.

Jurors were then ushered into the courtroom where more secretly recorded conversations were played and they heard Smith say that bribes are the “business of government,” according to the New York Post.

“Tell them I got a kid in Albany that needs to be born. So when you birth him . . . I’ll help you with your children,” Smith is heard saying on the tapes. “I’d say absolutely not,” to giving more bribe money.

“I’d say, ‘I’m not giving you a freaking dime.’ I’d say, ‘If I even give you a nickel more, you have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person you endorsed and hold Malcolm up and say he’s the best thing since sliced bread. Matter of fact, he’s better than sliced bread.’ ”

Smith, a Democrat who was for a time the State Senate majority leader, is charged with being the linchpin in a conspiracy to bribe Tabone, then the vice chairman of the Queens County Republican Committee, and Joseph J. Savino, the Bronx Republican chairman, so he could get their authorization to run for mayor as a Republican in 2013. Savino pleaded guilty to bribery. Tabone has argued that the payment he received was a legal retainer and he was entrapped into taking it. Halloran allegedly served as a go-between in discussions with the Republicans.

 

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Newly revealed recordings may halt Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Sen. Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial might be put on hold, according to reports.

The United States Attorney’s office failed to turn over 9,000 recorded conversations to defense lawyers until well into the trial, prompting the judge in the case to consider adjourning the case or declaring a mistrial, according to the New York Times.

The recordings, almost 300 hundred of which are in Yiddish, are made or received by Moses Stern, a Rockland County developer who became a government informer in order to avoid a prison sentence.

Smith, who currently holds office and is seeking reelection, is accused of trying to bribe his way into a GOP nomination for mayor.

On Thursday morning before the day’s trial, federal prosecutors argued that the conversations were irrelevant to bribery crime and wire fraud that the defendants, including Smith, are charged with. But the defense – including Smith’s lawyer Gerald L. Shargel – convinced the judge that somewhere in the recordings there might be evidence that Stern and an undercover agent entrapped the defendants. The judge, Kenneth M. Karas, decided to postpone his decision until Friday to give prosecutors a chance to show him how the recordings might be translated quickly enough for the current case to continue.

But it could take weeks to translate the Yiddish material since none of the lawyers speak Yiddish, according to the Times.

“The lawyers are working around the clock as it is, and now you’re adding a pretty substantial review of the recordings,” the judge said.

Jurors were then ushered into the courtroom where more secretly recorded conversations were played and they heard Smith say that bribes are “business of government,” according to the New York Post.

“Tell them I got a kid in Albany that needs to be born. So when you birth him . . . I’ll help you with your children,” Smith is heard saying on the tapes. “I’d say absolutely not,” to giving more bribe money.

“I’d say, ‘I’m not giving you a freaking dime.’ I’d say, ‘If I even give you a nickel more, you have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person you endorsed and hold Malcolm up and say he’s the best thing since sliced bread. Matter of fact, he’s better than sliced bread.’ ”

Smith, a Democrat who was for a time the State Senate majority leader, is charged with being the linchpin in a conspiracy to bribe Vincent Tabone, then the vice chairman of the Queens County Republican Committee, and Joseph J. Savino, the Bronx Republican chairman, so he could get their authorization to run for mayor as a Republican in 2013. Savino pleaded guilty to bribery. Tabone has argued that the payment he received was a legal retainer and he was entrapped into taking it. The third defendant is Daniel J. Halloran, who allegedly served as a go-between in discussions with the Republicans.

 

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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.

 

Recorded conversations presented at Malcolm Smith trial


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

State Sen. Malcolm Smith secretly agreed with undercover federal agents that fellow politicians could be persuaded through certain incentives to help him attain his political goals, The New York Times reported following courtroom testimony on Monday.

“Sometimes it takes cash, sometimes it takes checks, sometimes it takes a job,” an undercover FBI agent said in a recorded conversation, which was presented in court Monday, according to the Times. The statement was made in reference to what it would take for other politicians to throw their support behind Smith.

“Right, right, right,” Smith replied.

A meeting between two informants and Smith took place on November 16, 2012, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in White Plains, the Times said. One informant was a FBI agent posing as a businessman. The other was a Rockland County developer who assisted in the operation after being threatened with prison time, the Times said.

The Times reported that the Queens politician divulged two plans during the meeting: One to set himself up for a city mayoral run by running on the Republican ticket although he is a Democrat, and another that would re-establish himself as the leading Democrat in the State Senate by providing incentives to other state senators to garner support.

According to the Times, following the court session, Smith’s lawyer Gerald Shargel said, “Senator Smith is not charged with any conduct relating to senatorial elections.”

 

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