A federal judge threw the book at disgraced former Councilman Dan Halloran, sentencing him on Wednesday to 10 years behind bars for his conviction in a failed bribery plot to hijack the Republican Party’s 2013 mayoral nomination for Democrat Malcolm Smith.
Halloran, a former Republican councilman from northeast Queens, hoped to receive probation or home confinement after his conviction in July for his role in the $200,000 bribery scheme.
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas meted out a sentence even stiffer than what was called for by federal probation officials, who had recommended six and one-half to eight years in prison. Karas made it clear he was sending a message to public officials.
After the sentencing, Karas said, “Public officials in our state have to understand that they cannot take bribes.”
But Karas said his sentence was also based on his belief that Halloran perjured himself during his trial.
“I watched Mr. Halloran’s body language. He squirmed when asked about the bribes. And it was a dead giveaway that he was guilty… . He lied and lied and lied,” Karas said. “He repeatedly gave false information for five days.”
“I don’t want to make this finding. Halloran was an elected official. It’s sad what happened here,” Karas said.
Halloran, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, remained silent in court during the sentencing, leaving his lawyer, Jonathan Edelstein, to plead for leniency.
Edelstein described Halloran as an “extraordinary man who answered the calling of public service.”
“His life, except for this offense, has been good,” Edelstein said. “Obviously there’s a crime here that requires punishment, but all of his character should be considered.”
“He’s very sorry he made these choices. He’s very sorry he ran for City Council in the first place,” he said.
Edelstein said Halloran plans to file an appeal.
A federal jury took just 85 minutes to render their verdict against Halloran on five counts of bribery, wire fraud and racketeering.
Halloran was charged by the feds for his role in the attempt to steer the Republican mayoral nomination to Smith, then a Democratic state senator from Queens. Under state law, Smith needed the approval of three of the city’s five Republican county committees to get on the GOP ballot.
The jury found Halloran guilty of charges stemming from pocketing $20,500 in cash bribes for orchestrating talks to help arrange Republican support for Smith. He was also convicted for taking $18,300 in cash bribes and $6,300 in straw-donor campaign contributions in exchange for steering $80,000 in City Council funds to a private company seeking work with the city.
Smith was found guilty of his role in the bribery scheme by a federal court last month. He is awaiting sentencing.