Tag Archives: Joseph Savino

Ex-Bronx GOP chair pleads guilty in bribery scandal involving Queens pols

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The New York Daily News

The former Bronx Republican chairman has pleaded guilty in the bribery scandal involving two indicted Queens legislators.

Joseph “Jay” Savino admitted to accepting a $15,000 bribe in February from an undercover FBI agent to let Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith run for mayor as a Republican. Smith needed consent from three of the city’s five Republican chairmen.

Prosecutors said Smith had Councilmember Dan Halloran set up meetings with the county leaders and negotiate payoffs. Halloran is accused of pocketing thousands in exchange for his help.

Savino pleaded guilty to three public corruption counts on November 12 in federal court in White Plains for his hand in the alleged conspiracy that took place between November 2012 and April 2013.

He faces up to 30 years in prison and is expected to be sentenced February 25, according to reports.

Savino’s lawyer and Halloran, who has pleaded not guilty, did not respond to inquiries. Halloran’s lawyer declined to comment.

Former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, who were also arrested in connection to the scheme, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Tabone’s lawyers said a motion they filed to dismiss the charges against him is still pending and will be heard by Southern District of New York Judge Kenneth M. Karas on December 5.

“Mr. Savino has his own reasons for pleading guilty, but as far as we can tell, he did not implicate our client in any of his pleas,” said Deborah Misir, one of Tabone’s attorneys.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we have a very weighty motion to dismiss, pending the court,” Misir said. “We’re very confident the court is going to dismiss the two charges against our client.”



Smith, Halloran lawyers want some charges dismissed against embattled pols

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

State Senator Malcolm Smith, Councilmember Dan Halloran and former Republican leaders appeared in court late last week to continue fighting federal charges.

They all pleaded not guilty in April.

Lawyers for the defendants are reportedly fighting to get some of the charges dismissed. They could not be reached for comment in time for press.

Officials said Smith, a Democrat, bribed county GOP bosses to let him run for mayor as a Republican.

Halloran is accused of setting up meetings between Smith and county leaders and negotiating payoffs. He allegedly pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash and offered up councilmember item cash in exchange for bribes, officials said.

Vincent Tabone, ex-vice chair of the Queens County Republican Party, and Joseph Savino, former chair of the Bronx County GOP, allegedly took at least $40,000 in cash bribes as part of the conspiracy, authorities said.



EXCLUSIVE: FBI questioned Queens pols last year over GOP probe

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photos

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and ex-Congressmember Bob Turner were two of many Queens leaders questioned in the FBI’s probe into the county’s GOP last year, The Courier has learned.

“At some point during this investigation, I was questioned by the FBI, as were many other people,” said Ulrich, 28. “I told them what I knew on firsthand knowledge. I also told them what I thought was hearsay.”

Many in the southern Queens district, including former district leaders and candidates, were questioned in person by FBI agents last year into dealings with the party, Ulrich said.

“It’s a federal crime to lie to an FBI agent. I told them the truth or what I knew to be true. What I didn’t know at the time was that there already was an investigation into the Queens County Republican Party,” he said.

The agency launched its investigation into the party last May amid allegations Board of Elections employees may have used their positions to further their careers as political consultants, the New York Post reported.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, Councilmember Dan Halloran, Queens County GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone and Bronx County GOP chair Joseph Savino were part of a group of six officials arrested by the FBI yesterday for conspiring to rig the mayoral election, authorities said.

Smith, a registered Democrat, needed consent from three of the city’s five GOP county chairmen to appear on the Republican ballot for city’s 2013 mayoral election.

He allegedly bribed Tabone and Savino with $40,000 in cash payouts for their support, according to the Southern District U.S. Attorney and FBI.

Halloran is accused of setting up meetings between Smith and county leaders and negotiating the bribes. He allegedly pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash in exchange for his help, officials said.

“I had known for a long time that Vince Tabone was a corrupt person and that he was involved in illegal activity,” Ulrich said. “But I never thought in a million years I would wake up one morning and read about Dan Halloran being implicated in a crime like this. The Dan Halloran that I knew has been a very honest person that works very hard.”

The lawmaker, who did not disclose further details of the investigation, claims Tabone solicited money in the past in exchange for county support.

Ulrich said he cautioned Halloran — his only other Queens GOP colleague in the Council — to stay away from county leaders.

“I had warned Dan a million times. I said these are bad people, and he agreed with me. That’s why I’m so shocked,” Ulrich said. “Dan knew these people were unscrupulous, notorious bad apples.”

Party chair Phil Ragusa called on Tabone to resign, pending the outcome of legal proceedings, according to a statement released by the Queens GOP.

But Ulrich said the “compromised county” needs Ragusa to step down as well and elect Turner as their new leader.

Ragusa has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but Ulrich said that could easily change during the course of the probe.

“Who’s to say what Vince Tabone and others might tell the FBI now that they’ve been arrested,” Ulrich said. “I think they’ll tell everything they know to save their own skin.”