Tag Archives: Dan Halloran

Former Councilman Halloran found guilty in bribery trial


| 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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Malcolm Smith corruption trial begins


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Opening statements began Wednesday in the corruption trial against state Sen. Malcolm Smith who is accused of trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ballot for New York City mayor.

“Malcolm Smith wanted something more; he wanted to be mayor” and figured his best shot would be to cross party lines and “run as a Republican,” Assistant US Attorney Douglas Bloom told jurors at federal court in White Plains, the New York Post said.

Former Councilman Dan Halloran and former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone are also on trial with Smith.

Halloran is accused of negotiating payoffs and setting up meetings between Smith and the county bosses, allegedly pocketing thousands in the process.

Vincent Tabone allegedly took cash bribes as part of the conspiracy.

Smith’s lawyer’s accused the government of entrapment, and Halloran’s defense team argued that their client is not a crook, Post said.

A juror was dismissed for discussing the case with a relative and defense lawyers asked for an entirely new jury after a copy of local newspaper was found in the jury room, but the judge opted against selecting a new one, according to the Post.

 

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


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

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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Courier brings holiday cheer, toys to kids at Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER

Santa brought smiles and of course toys to the good boys and girls at Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool in Jamaica for The Queens Courier’s annual holiday gift drive.

Ringing his bell and calling out a jolly “ho ho ho,” some of the kids were a little shy of Old Saint Nick, but most of the around 90 students were excited to see him and receive the donated toys on Friday, December 13.

The Apple Preschool program offers children with disabilities between three to five years old a large variety of educational and therapeutic services, including speech, occupational and physical therapy and counseling. The children interact with special education teachers and clinicians who work on language skills, cognitive, motor and social development. After participating in the program, the majority of the children become integrated into the public school system.

Toys were donated to The Courier’s holiday gift drive by Courier readers and advertisers as well as from Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, who also received a donation for the drive on behalf of Boy Scout Troop 49 of Sacred Heart in Bayside, and Victor G. Mimoni, director of communications for Councilmember Dan Halloran, who additionally gave a generous toy donation.

“A lot of these kids come from low-income households. This extra little treat means a lot to them and their parents,” said teacher Missy Karvecky.

She prepared her class for Kriss Kringle’s visit by reading them a book about Santa called It’s Christmas David.

The day was extra special for Tommy, 3, who was also celebrating his birthday Friday, and had just joined the Apple Preschool program two weeks earlier.

“This is the happiest I’ve seen him,” said his teacher, Julie Fidelman.

“It was wonderful to see [all the kids’] faces light up after they saw Santa,” she said.

Another student, Jayden, 4, was also happy to see Santa and looking forward to going home and racing his new toy truck.

“I loved it,” he said. “I’m going to tell my mommy [about Santa’s visit].”

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Incoming Councilmember Paul Vallone names staff


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone has picked the team he’ll take to City Hall in January, The Courier has learned.

The seven-member staff consists mostly of longtime supporters and includes two former employees of Queens elected officials and the aunt of a local assemblymember.

“These are people who believed in me five years ago, when I first started,” Vallone said during an interview at his family’s Flushing law firm. “They’ve been with me since day one. They’ve grown with me, bled with me, laughed with me. They did everything with me. I trust them.”

The incoming lawmaker appointed Jonathan Szott as his chief of staff, snatching the top aide from his term-limited brother, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

He is also taking Michael Yon from his part-time gig at Assemblymember Ron Kim’s office to work constituent services and community outreach in the Korean communities.

Both workers received blessings from their former bosses before the switch.

“For me, it was easy to decide, even though it’s really not a lot of time,” Vallone said. “It’s really only been a month since the election. It was probably harder to cut down the list.”

The hires were finalized last week, the freshman legislator said.

They include Communications Director Lionel Morales, Director of Constituent Services/Treasurer Vito Tautonico and part-timers Breeana Mulligan and Ahmed Nazar.

Kate Boehme, the aunt of Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, will also help part-time in the communications department. Boehme and other members of Braunstein’s family helped a lot with campaigning, Vallone said.

“They were with me this summer from beginning to end. She’ll be a big asset,” he said.

There may also be room to add one or two more positions, including legislative director, Vallone said.

Also up in the air is where the incoming councilmember will work.

The Flushing branch of the family’s law firm at 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard will close after five years, as Vallone prepares to transition into a full-time elected official.

High hopes of transforming the office into his City Council headquarters may be dashed since the bathroom is not yet wheelchair accessible.

“It’s going to be hard parting with this place,” said Vallone. “My wife and I did everything here. I mean everything, from kids’ homework to the Clinton Democratic Club to both campaigns.”

Vallone starts his new job January 1. He will be officially sworn into the City Council January 8 and will have a local inauguration January 5.

But work has already begun, Vallone said, and calls have been pouring in from constituents in need.

The lawmaker-to-be said he has already gotten commitments from the city’s School Construction Authority officials, saying they will move away from building a school in Whitestone.

And while it is too late to change plans for a Bayside school at the former Keil Bros. site — something Vallone said he opposed, despite other claims — the city pledged to keep the school zoned for School District 26 only, Vallone said.

“It’s still an unfortunate location, but that’s a major victory,” he said.

Vallone replaces Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this year.

 

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Paul Vallone wins race for Halloran’s seat, continues Vallone legacy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The 40-year Vallone legacy will live on in City Hall.

Paul Vallone, 46, will carry his family’s name in the City Council for the next four years after winning election Tuesday to lead District 19 in northeast Queens.

Vallone beat Republican Dennis Saffran with 57.2 percent of the vote, as of midnight with all precincts reporting, according to preliminary results.

“[This] was a five-year journey that finished today,” Vallone said. “The good guys did it today.”

The two were vying to replace scandal-scarred incumbent Dan Halloran, who chose not to seek re-election after his April arrest on bribery charges.

“They attacked. They lied. They lost,” Vallone said of his opponent’s campaign. “Those who lie don’t get a seat in this community anymore.”

Vallone emerged in September as the winner of a crowded Democratic primary race that came down to the wire.

He beat runner-up candidate Austin Shafran by nearly 200 votes after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted.

One of Vallone’s primary foes, Paul Graziano, later crossed party lines to endorse Saffran.

Halloran, a Republican, did the same — but to cast his vote for Vallone, he announced on his Facebook page on Election Day.

“Voting today — for the first time in my life voting for a democratic city council candidate and candidate for public advocate,” Halloran wrote on his post, which was accompanied with a photo of Vallone’s campaign flyers.

He later congratulated Vallone with a Facebook post that said, “The Vallone family’s tradition of public service continues and I am sure Paul will work diligently for us.”

Vallone, a Flushing attorney, is the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Vallone Sr. represented Astoria from 1974 until 2002 when his oldest son succeeded him. Vallone Jr. is term-limited out of office this year.

“I think it’s very, very important that we have one good, moderate voice in the City Council that can bring both sides together, resulting in a safer city,” said Vallone Sr. “That’s the way I tried to start it in 1974, and we have to do that again. If anybody can do it, it’s Paul Vallone.”

Vallone Jr. shared the same sentiment, saying a “reasonable voice in City Hall is needed more than ever.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of my little brother,” Vallone Jr. said. 

This will be the first time in four decades a Vallone will represent northeast Queens instead of Astoria.

The district runs from College Point to Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck. 

The area’s elected officials, the Queens Democratic Party and civic leaders who endorsed him welcomed the change.   

“We’ve restored some sanity to the 19th District,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “The residents can now hold their heads high and be proud.”                                                   

Graziano crosses lines, endorses Republican candidate Saffran in District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

That’s the proverbial message a northeast Queens Democrat is sending by crossing party lines to endorse the Republican candidate over the one who beat him at the polls last month.

Paul Graziano, who came in third in the Democratic primary for District 19 to Paul Vallone, publicly endorsed Vallone’s general election opponent, Dennis Saffran, on Tuesday.

“Voting for the best person in the race is more important than voting for your party,” Graziano said.

The Flushing urban planner said the decision was not made lightly, but the move is not entirely surprising to spectators of the closely watched contest.

Graziano had slammed Vallone multiple times in forums for being a registered lobbyist. He was also one of three primary foes targeted in accusatory hit pieces paid for by a political action committee called Jobs for New York, which endorsed Vallone.

The fuming trio, who included Chrissy Voskerichian and Austin Shafran, took turns grilling Vallone during a televised debate and at a press conference they held to call on him to denounce the mailers.

“During the campaign, Paul Vallone refused to take responsibility for any of these acts,” Graziano said.

“We’ve had four years of not having an adult in the room,” Graziano added, referring to the sitting but scandal-scarred incumbent, Councilmember Dan Halloran. “To me, this is just a continuation, if not worse.”

Runner-up Shafran, who narrowly lost by less than 200 votes, said he would not support either candidate. Voskerichian said she would not endorse Vallone and was not endorsing Saffran at this time.

Vallone did get the backing of John Duane, however, who finished second to last. Duane was not attacked in the mailers but had a hand in calling Vallone out for them.

The endorsement was not public and Duane did not give a reason for it.

“Whatever differences Paul [Graziano] and I have is pale next to our differences with Paul Vallone,” Saffran said.

Vallone’s campaign fired back, saying Saffran “has been missing in action in this community for over a decade.”

“That probably explains why the leaders we know and trust have endorsed Paul Vallone, including Senator Chuck Schumer, the United Federation of Teachers and countless others,” said Vallone spokesperson Austin Finan.

Vallone and Saffran will face off on November 5.

 

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PAC attacks City Council candidates in District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Three City Council candidates who recently had their faces plastered on smear mailers are calling for an end to “one of the worst mudslinging campaigns” the district has ever seen.

“I am very disappointed and saddened by the false attacks which have been made on the personal character of the candidates,” said Chrissy Voskerichian. “False accusations and outright lies have no place in what should be a spirited, focused and honest campaign.”

Voskerichian, Austin Shafran and Paul Graziano have been targeted in at least five hit pieces this month which were paid for by a political action committee (PAC) called Jobs for New York.

They are running against two other Democrats in a primary for the District 19th seat currently held by indicted Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran.

John Duane has not yet been mentioned by the PAC and Paul Vallone has been endorsed by them.

Graziano, in the latest mailer, is seen engulfed in flames under a headline that reads “Let’s not get burned by Paul Graziano.”

The urban planner is accused of saying in 2006 he would “take advantage of racial strife in the community” and is called “an embarrassment” in another flyer.

“It’s really an outrageous situation,” said Graziano, who also called the hit pieces “amusing” and “ridiculous.”

Voskerichian, who served as Halloran’s chief of staff for three years, is labeled “the captain” of the scandal-scarred politician’s “sinking, corrupt ship.”

Shafran, the Senate Democrats spokesperson in 2010, is blasted for “staunchly defending” State Senator Malcolm Smith, who allegedly conspired with Halloran and GOP leaders to run for mayor on the Republican line.

The four candidates called for Vallone to put an end to the negative campaigning — “the worst” the district has seen, according to State Senator Tony Avella, who used to be the area’s councilmember.

“I consider Paul Vallone a friend, and I know he’s better than this,” Duane said. “It’s time for him to stand up and do the right thing by publicly repudiating this insidious, negative campaign that is being perpetrated on his behalf.”

The PAC, headed by the Real Estate Board of New York, spent $113,134 on Vallone’s campaign, according to The Real Deal.

Austin Finan, a spokesperson for Vallone’s campaign, said candidates, by law, have no control over outside spending.

PACs can spend as much money as they want on behalf of candidates but cannot coordinate with them.

“Those opponents of Paul Vallone who repeatedly lie about these facts continue to demonstrate they lack the honesty and integrity to represent northeast Queens in the City Council,” Finan said.

The candidates, however, said Vallone is still tied to the tactics.

“Anyone who benefits from these reprehensible attacks and fails to denounce them is as bad as the people behind those attacks,” Shafran said.

 

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Queens political hall of shame


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

This New York City election season features not one, but two formerly disgraced politicians asking voters to give them a second chance.

Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner, who announced he is running for mayor in May, and former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who launched his bid for city comptroller last week, were both forced to resign after sexual scandals.

They’re not the only ones in the political hall of shame. Here’s a recap of some recent Queens electeds who have been caught in their own scandals.

State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran

State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran are still fighting off bombshell accusations they had an elaborate scheme to rig the 2013 mayoral election.

The two were among six officials arrested by the FBI on April 2.

Smith, a registered Democrat, needed consent from three of the city’s five GOP chairmen to run for mayor as a Republican. He allegedly bribed GOP officials to get on the ticket.

Feds say Halloran pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash for setting up meetings between Smith and GOP officials. He also offered up councilmember item cash in exchange for bribes, prosecutors said.

Smith, elected to the State Senate in 2000, was the chair of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) before his power was revoked shortly after the arrest.

Halloran has been the Republican incumbent in Council District 19 since 2009. He was stripped of his committee assignments and ability to allocate funds. He said he would not seek reelection this year.

The two have denied wrongdoing. Their cases are ongoing.

Shirley Huntley

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley was arrested and charged last August with two felonies and a misdemeanor for drafting a fake letter to show that a sham nonprofit group, the Parents Information Network, used a $30,000 state grant for “workshops.”

Despite calls for her to resign following the arrest, Huntley continued with her reelection campaign, but lost her seat to then-Councilmember James Sanders in the 2012 Democratic Primary. She had held the seat since 2007.

Though she initially pleaded not guilty, she pleaded guilty to the charges almost six months after her arrest. In May, she was sentenced to one year and one day in jail plus three years probation.

The same month, it was revealed that Huntley secretly recorded the conversations of elected officials while she was still in office at the request of federal authorities.

Jimmy Meng

Former Assemblymember Jimmy Meng was arrested by the FBI in July 2012 and charged with bribery.

Meng, 69, was the first Asian-American to serve in the New York State legislature. He represented Flushing from 2005 to 2006 and is the father to Congressmember Grace Meng.

Feds said Meng solicited $80,000 in bribes from a state court defendant who had been charged with state tax crimes and sought Meng’s help to reduce the sentence.

Meng was caught red-handed at his Flushing lumber yard accepting a fruit basket filled with cash from the defendant, who was cooperating with FBI agents.

He pleaded guilty last November and served his one month jail sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was released on April 18.

Meng is currently serving four months of house arrest and two years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $30,000 in fines and serve 750 hours of community service.

Hiram Monserrate

Former Councilmember and State Senator Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months in prison in December 2012 after pleading guilty to charges that he misappropriated more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funding to finance his failed 2006 run for state Senate.

The money was directed to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment (LIBRE), a non-profit in his council district at the time. The discretionary funds, which are drawn from city taxpayer dollars, were used to pay employees of the non-profit to collect signatures, work on his Senate campaign and conduct a voter registration drive.

Monserrate, who was elected to the state Senate in 2008 after eight years in the City Council, was expelled from the seat in 2010 after being convicted of domestic assault on his girlfriend. He lost the subsequent special election to state Senator Jose Peralta.

Anthony Seminerio

FBI agents arrested longtime Queens Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio in September 2008 after an investigation found that he that he took nearly $1 million from hospitals, a school and other entities for actions he undertook as a member of the State Assembly. A grand jury indicted him a month later.

In June 2009, he resigned from his seat after 30 years in the Assembly and pleaded guilty.

He was sentenced in February 2010 to six years in prison.

Seminerio passed away in January 2011 at age 75.

Brian McLaughlin

In March 2008, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin, a seven-term politician and former head of the New York City Central Labor Council (CLC), pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $2.2 million in funds from people he worked for and served along with numerous organizations.

Those included the CLC, the state of New York and even a number of nonprofits.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Following his 2006 arrest, he left office at the end of the year after serving in the Assembly since 1993.

Alan Hevesi

In December 2006, former Queens Assemblymember and State Comptroller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty to a class E felony defrauding the state government by using a state employee as a personal chauffeur for his ailing wife.

Hevesi, who resigned as comptroller the same month he pleaded guilty, received the maximum four-year sentence.

After serving 20 months behind bars, Hevesi was released from prison. He will remain on parole until April 2015.

Dennis Gallagher

First elected in 2001, City Councilmember Dennis Gallagher resigned in March 2008 after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, admitting that he sexually abused a woman in his office in Middle Village in July 2007 while he was intoxicated.

The victim later filed a civil suit against him.

 

 

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Embattled Councilmember Dan Halloran launches law practice


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via www.halloranlaw.org

An embattled Queens legislator has launched a law practice as he awaits his own day in court.

Councilmember Dan Halloran is still taking on legal cases as an attorney and has formed a separate office to handle them, The Courier has learned.

This firm’s website, www.halloranlaw.org, describes Whitestone-based Halloran Law P.C. as a “one-stop shop for all of your legal needs” and touts the eponymous partner’s legal expertise.

In nearly 1,250 words, a biography details Halloran’s law background and concludes with local newspapers calling him “a highly respected member of the City Council” and praising his “‘community-oriented’ view of government.”

It does not mention that the head of the practice is facing federal corruption charges for his alleged hand in bribing GOP officials to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ticket.

Feds say Halloran pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash for setting up meetings between Smith and GOP officials. He also allegedly offered up councilmember item cash in exchange for bribes, a criminal complaint detailed.
Halloran and Smith were arrested on April 2. Both deny any wrongdoing.

A Halloran Law P.C. spokesperson said the website “has been online since January 2013, when Mr. Halloran formed a separate law office to handle the legal work he was receiving.”

However, domain records show the site was created on June 13.

Halloran has been a practicing attorney for more than a decade and remains a counsel to several firms, said the spokesperson, who did not give a name. Halloran was previously a partner at Palmieri and Castiglione, handling civil litigation, general practice matters and criminal cases outside New York City.

The lawmaker represents the 19th Council District for the remainder of the year. He said he would not seek reelection in order to focus on clearing his name.

His council spokesperson, Victor Mimoni, said the practice does not impede with the councilmember’s duty to his district.

“He attends certain committee meetings when the subject matter affects the district and he goes to the stated meetings,” Mimoni said. “The office is open from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. We’re still handling constituent calls. The district is still being served.”

Halloran has previously received flak for what some see as a head-in-the-sand approach to his legal troubles.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn reportedly called him “stupid” and “arrogant” for sending out a budget-related press release six days after his arrest.

 

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Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim won’t run for office this year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim announced he would not run for any office this year.

The Democrat had mulled a run in the 19th District to replace Republican incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran, who is not seeking re-election while he fights federal corruption charges.

Kim lost a 2009 election to Halloran.

“After serious consideration, I have decided not to run for City Council this year,” Kim said in a statement. “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the outpouring of support I received from so many people in the community.”

Political insiders said Kim, who grew up in Bay Terrace, was also eyeing a try for Borough President. But he shot down rumors to The Courier, saying that is not his intention.

“I will not be running for any office this year,” he said, “but will continue to be active in advocating for causes that are important to the community as a whole.”

 

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Halloran dropping re-election bid amid federal charges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DAN HALLORAN

With an uphill legal battle underway, Councilmember Dan Halloran will not to run for re-election later this year, widening an already crowded race for his seat.

A source close to Halloran originally confirmed the embattled legislator is withdrawing from the race.

“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation, while I continue to discharge my sworn duties as a member of the New York City Council,” Halloran said in a statement. “After much thought, I have concluded that it is impossible for me to properly do these things and take on the enormous demands of a political campaign, so I will not to pursue another term in the Council.”

Halloran has maintained his innocence on federal corruption charges alleging he helped a state legislator try to buy his way onto the Republican mayoral ballot. Halloran entered a “not guilty” plea in court last week.

Several Halloran staffers, including his chief of staff and his legislative director, resigned in the days and weeks after Halloran was arrested on April 2. Federal prosecutors accuse Halloran of taking $20,000 in bribes and arranging payouts for GOP bosses in Queens and the Bronx with the aim of getting Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith the Republican mayoral nomination.

Halloran started focusing on his re-election campaign in District 19 after losing a congressional election for the newly-drawn Congressional District 6 last year. Some political insiders viewed him as a long shot and he had trouble raising funds.

Democratic primary candidate former Assemblymember John Duane, Paul Graziano, Paul Vallone and Austin Shafran announced their candidacies for the District 19 seat prior to Halloran’s arrest last month. Chrissy Voskerichian, Halloran’s former chief of staff, filed papers with the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Several calls were placed to Voskerichian for comment.

But since then, fellow Republicans have begun to eye the seat. Dennis Saffran, a Douglaston attorney, announced his candidacy last week. The move, backed by the Queens GOP, will likely force a primary.

Since his arrest, Halloran has also come under media scrutiny for an alleged affair with a former staffer while Halloran was still married.

The New York Post subsequently reported Halloran was having an affair with a former intern. The intern was reportedly in Halloran’s home during his early morning arrest. Because Halloran has not immediately stepped down, he is still open to a misconduct investigation by the council on sexual misconduct allegations reported earlier this week.
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Race to replace embattled Councilmember Dan Halloran underway


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

The first Republican candidate has thrown his hat in the ring to replace federally-indicted Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Dennis Saffran, 57, said he is running in the 19th Council District to restore “the tradition of integrity and honesty in government.”

The attorney from Douglaston ran for the seat in 2001 and narrowly lost to then-Councilmember Tony Avella.

“I’m the strongest Republican candidate,” Saffran said. “I have a record of citywide and community involvement.

I’ve been active in issues that turned New York City around.”

Saffran is the vice president of the Douglaston Civic Association and works for the Nassau County Attorney’s office.

Halloran faces conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud charges over allegations he helped State Senator Malcolm Smith try to buy his way to the Republican mayoral nomination. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged a number of other state and city officials in the case as well.

“He and I have never seen eye to eye on a lot of issues,” Saffran said of Halloran. “Given his arrest and indictment, he’s presumably not running, as far as I know. Nobody’s going to support him if he does. There’s essentially an open council seat.”

There are also reports a former election foe of Halloran will seek his council spot. All City Council seats along with the mayor’s office will be on the ballot in November. Halloran’s office could be up for special election before then, although Halloran has made no indication he will resign.

The Korea Daily reports Democrat Kevin Kim, who lost a 2009 bid for the district seat to Halloran, has been mulling a run.

Insiders say Republican Rudy S. Giuliani, second cousin to ex-mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and current chief of staff to Councilmember Eric Ulrich, might also be a candidate. Neither he nor Kim have made any official announcements about Halloran’s seat.

Democratic candidates who announced bids for Halloran’s seat prior to his arrest include ex-Assemblymember John Duane, attorney Paul Vallone, former governor’s aide Austin Shafran and urban planner Paul Graziano.

 

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Ex-councilmember Anthony Como replaces indicted Queens GOP vice chair Vince Tabone


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember Anthony Como will become the new executive vice chair of the Queens GOP, replacing indicted attorney Vince Tabone.

GOP chair Phil Ragusa confirmed Como would be taking over, saying the former city legislator would be a good fit.

“I know Anthony for a long time,” Ragusa said. “He was our City Council candidate we ran against Liz Crowley. I had extensive conversations with him.”

Ragusa said the agreement to install Como was mutual. His experience as an elected official would make him a good fit for the party, he said.

“I think he’s going to do a fine job,” Ragusa said. “He knows the political process like I know the political process.”

Tabone was arrested on April 2 in connection with charges that he took bribe money to help get State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, on the mayoral ticket as a Republican.

GOP Councilmember Dan Halloran is also accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes to sway party chairs to sign off on Smith’s Republican run.

Como served in the City Council for about six months, replacing disgraced Councilmember Dennis Gallagher in June 2008. He lost the general election to now-Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley for District 30 in December of that year.

He previously served as commissioner of the Queens Board of Elections, and then president of the New York City Board of Elections. He also worked as an assistant district attorney and was chief counsel to former State Senator Serphin Maltese.

In 2010, he made an unsuccessful bid at unseating incumbent State Senator Joseph Addaboo in District 15.

“I look forward to working with Chairman Ragusa to strengthen the organization to ensure that NYC has representation on both sides of the aisle,” Como said in a statement. “I will be contacting our district leaders, party members, and loyal Republicans to let them know that we are energized, motivated and moving in a direction in which we can all be proud.”

When asked if Ragusa believes Como and his years of government experience would breathe new life into the party, the chair said the GOP was still strong and functioning.

“We’re all here,” Ragusa said. “We’re working hard. Queens County is going to survive.”

Ragusa said he has not spoken to Tabone, who was arraigned in federal court yesterday.

The Queens GOP also appointed: Robert Beltrani, first vice chair; Anthony Carollo, vice chair; Deborah Heinichen, vice chair;  Samiha Makawi, recording secretary;  James McClelland and Pierre Alcantara, members at large

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 70. Breezy. Winds from the South at 15 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Friday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 50. Breezy. Winds from the South at 15 to 20 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Cultural Crossroads – Korea Meets Greece

At 8 p.m., on Friday, April 19, the cultures of Korea and Greece will meet at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard in Flushing. The VonKu Pak Drum & Dance Troupe perform Korean music and dance dressed in traditional regalia followed by Yianni Papastefanou and his ensemble in an evening of traditional music and dance from the Greek Isles. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

1 of 2 Mass. bomb suspects dead; suburbs shut down

Two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during their getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left one of them dead and another still at large Friday, authorities said as the manhunt intensified for a young man described as a dangerous terrorist. Read more: AP

Indictment in Smith, Halloran mayoral bribery case

A federal grand jury has indicted State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran for an alleged bribery plot to rig the mayoral race, according to published reports. Read more: Queens Courier

Video shows beating of Queens girls

A beat down by bullies in Astoria, Queens, that was caught on video left two middle school girls terrified to be on the street in their own neighborhood. Now the girls and their parents are turning to police at the precinct to restore their sense of safety. Read more: Fox New York

‘Good riddance, Sandy’ party at Healy’s Bar and Grill in Rockaway on Saturday to celebrate removal of name from tropical storm database

A Superstorm-battered Queens pub is throwing a going away party for Hurricane Sandy. Read more: New York Daily News

NYPD inspector testifies ‘very few’ complaints of racial profiling over stop-and-frisk

The court case over the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program has been going on for one month. Read more: CBS New York

Mayor Bloomberg: Senate gun vote ‘a disgrace’

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday called the defeat of gun restrictions in the U.S. Senate “a disgrace” and said “children lost.” Read more: Fox New York/AP