Tag Archives: Malcolm Smith

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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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


| 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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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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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Becoming partly cloudy after some morning light rain. Fog early. High 66. Winds SW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 41. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: New York Meets Istanbul – An Exhibition of Charcoal Drawings

Meliksah Soyturk’s “New York Meets Istanbul” is an exhibition which brings the above words to life…. transporting us, through the Artist’s eye, through time and space, to another Continent. Through his work, he is bringing together two of the most wonderful cities in the world and two vastly different, yet undeniably similar cultures. At Flushing Town Hall through Sunday, April 13. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens cab driver arrested in West Hempstead hit and run

A cab driver from Queens is under arrest and facing charges in connection with a hit and run on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Sen. Smith’s fraud and bribery trial set for June

A federal judge on Monday ordered state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s fraud and bribery trial to begin June 2, quietly rejecting the powerful Queens Democrat’s bid to push the date back a few months so he could smoothly seek re-election. Read more: New York Post

EXCLUSIVE: Average woman in the city earns 82 cents for man’s dollar, controller study shows

It’s still a man’s world — even in progressive New York City. Read more: New York Daily News

City Council plans 10 percent raise in its budget

Belt-tightening is out and free spending is in at the City Council, which plans to increase its own budget by more than 10 percent in a single year — six times the rate of inflation. Read more: New York Post

NTSB: Engineer in fatal Metro-North derailment has ‘severe obstructive sleep apnea’

Federal investigators have found that the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed and left four people dead and dozens more injured has a serious sleep disorder. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Candidate Clyde Vanel wants State Senator Malcolm Smith to step down


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Clyde Vanel launched his campaign against State Senator Malcolm Smith in January, and on Wednesday Vanel called for the incumbent to step down.

Smith was arrested last April on corruption charges. His trial is set to begin June 2 and Vanel said Smith, who is up for re-election, “cannot properly represent the community while on trial for political corruption.”

“The Senator is innocent until proven guilty. However, the community’s need for proper representation during this difficult period is outweighed by the Senator’s individual circumstances. Smith should step down,” Vanel said.

The State Senate will be out of session come the trial date, but Vanel said that “doesn’t mean the work for the community isn’t done.”

“The petitioning period for the campaign begins in June. The time to really engage and talk to the public is during the campaign. If you’re too busy and you cannot do that, that’s a detriment to the community,” he said.

Smith will be tried along with former Councilmember Dan Halloran and former Queens GOP leader Vincent Tabone. The three were allegedly involved in a scheme to get Smith, a Democrat, on the Republican ticket for last year’s mayoral race.

“Our community is suffering and there are many vital issues that our community needs proper representation and attention [to],” Vanel said, “namely unemployment, education, senior services and quality of life, to name a few.”

Smith and representatives for the state senator did not comment.

 

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Tony Avella joins NY State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

State Senator Tony Avella is joining the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), he announced Wednesday. 

He will be the fifth member of the breakaway faction of Senate Democrats — led by Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx — who share majority control of the chamber with Republicans.

“Under Senator Klein’s leadership, the IDC has developed a clear, progressive agenda for New York’s working families,” Avella said. “They have shown an ability to get big things done, without the dysfunction of years past.”

The cross-aisle conference, formed in 2011, also includes Senators Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Valesky of Oneida and David Carlucci of Westchester.

Avella, elected to the Senate in 2010 after two terms in the City Council, is also the only member from Queens.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, of southeast Queens, joined the conference in December 2012 and helped the IDC and Republicans take leadership. Klein stripped Smith of his IDC membership, however, after his arrest last year on federal corruption charges.

Conference members praised Avella for his passion and knowledge.

“Senator Avella has built a career fighting for those who are most in need, so I am thrilled to welcome him to the IDC,” Carlucci said. “He has the experience, passion and know-how to make a major impact on state policy.”

Klein said Avella’s public service experience makes him the “type of seasoned legislator who knows how to get things done.”

“He will be a major asset in our fight to make New York more affordable for working families,” Klein said.

The switch, however, is said to hurt Senate Democrats’ efforts to reclaim control in the chamber.

Senate Democratic Conference spokesperson Mike Murphy said in a statement that it was “unfortunate that progressive policies continue to be stymied because of divisions created by senators who choose to empower Republicans.”

Astoria Senator Mike Gianaris, the deputy minority leader, declined to comment.

The move also upset some of the senator’s usual supporters.

“It’s  disloyal and it’s not fair to the people of the 11th Senate District who have worked very hard for Tony over the years,” said Democratic State Committeeman Matt Silverstein. “What he did was self-centered and disgraceful.” 

Avella is up for re-election this year. He dropped out of a contentious race for Queens borough president last year, citing “unfinished business in Albany” as a major factor to his decision.

 

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State Senator Malcolm Smith seeking re-election despite corruption charges


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Senator Malcolm Smith is running for re-election and fighting to keep his seat from current challengers Clyde Vanel and Munir Avery.

While Smith is “focusing on governing,” Vanel has jump-started his campaign with a $100,000 loan to provide the “infrastructure of the campaign.”

“We wanted to start off strong,” he said.

He is seeking to maintain his campaign office and purchase voter information software, among other things.

Vanel, who previously ran for City Council, said the senate district is “much bigger” and “we need resources to start the campaign the right way.”

He hopes to raise $350,000 as election season continues. With the $350,000, he will pay back the loan and spend $250,000 on his campaign.

Regarding his own race, the incumbent Smith said “the time for campaigning is later.” Despite an indictment on corruption charges, to which Smith plead not guilty, he hopes to reclaim the seat he has held for 13 years.

“I don’t think there was ever any doubt the senator would run,” said a spokesperson for the embattled legislator.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights business attorney, and Avery, a Queens Village estates attorney, both criticized Smith for his involvement with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of Democrats who govern with Republicans.

However, after Smith’s indictment in April, the IDC dropped him.

“The senator is a Democrat and he will be running as a Democrat,” the spokesperson said, but added he “is no stranger to crossing party lines in order to work with everyone.”

Smith is “focused on the budget and making sure southeast Queens receives the adequate share of resources for schools and jobs creation,” he said in a statement.

 

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Clyde Vanel latest to enter race for Malcolm Smith’s Senate seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The race for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat is widening with new contender Clyde Vanel.

Vanel joins attorney Munir Avery to try and snag the Senate seat from Smith, who was arrested last April for corruption charges.

“We have zero representation right now in the Senate,” Vanel said of the 14th Senate District, which comprises of southeast Queens neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Queens Village, Hollis and Cambria Heights.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights native, wants to focus on bringing jobs back to the district and straightening out “Albany’s dysfunction.”

“We need to bring more jobs to our state and economic policy,” he said. “I have owned and run businesses before. I’ve had employees. I’m a business attorney, so I understand the policies and regulations that make it difficult for people to keep small businesses in New York.”

Vanel most recently ran to replace the term-limited Councilmember Leroy Comrie, but fell short by two percent of the votes to current Councilmember Daneek Miller in September’s primary.

Since then, the attorney said he has “been trying to get back on my feet” and expand support in the district for this upcoming election.

If elected, he said he would “be loyal to the Democratic Party,” criticizing Smith for associating with the Independent Democratic Conference, a bipartisan legislative branch. He also hopes to find alternative ways to bringing in revenue outside of raising taxes.

“We have to be more creative with respect to how do we generate revenue from the government, and how do we do more with less,” he said.

He added he will soon be releasing a plan of ideas on how to do so.

“I’m the best person that is currently in the race now,” he said. “The thing is, I’m not running against Malcom Smith, I’m running for the seat. The plan of attack is to just stand on the issues.”

 

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Attorney Munir Avery to run for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Munir Avery

Munir Avery announced he will be the first challenger for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat in the 2014 election.

“I was born and raised in Queens Village, and I want to continue to serve my community. I want to bring the services to my community,” said the attorney.

Smith, who was indicted in April for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for mayor, has not publicly decided whether to run again.

Reps for the 13-year Democratic incumbent said he is not going to comment on his challenger.

In the State Senate, Smith caucused with a group of Democrats that govern with Republicans, said Avery.

“Because of that, the Democrats don’t have their chairmanship [in Albany],” he said.

If elected, Avery plans to caucus with the Democrats in order to work and fight for the party’s agenda.

“It’s cleaning up the system,” he said. “That would be the reason I felt the need to run against [Smith].”

Although this is Avery’s first run at office, he is no stranger to politics. He currently is counsel to Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, and previously worked for the Queens district attorney’s office and on City Council campaigns.

Avery hopes to address various issues surrounding schools, including funding a universal pre-kindergarten, nurturing scholar athletes, and implementing art and after-school programs.

“When I went to public school, we were able to have art, gym,” he said. “I want to see that back in the schools and I’m going to fight for that.”

He also wants to promote open government in Albany and “try to get the big money out,” of which he said Smith has failed to do.

 

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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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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