Corruption Charges Dash Longshot Mayoral Bid

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A New York Democrat tried to “bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion” on the Republican ticket with help from five corrupt lawmakers, according to a corruption complaint unsealed Tuesday.
     At a press conference, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that the charges depict “an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”
     The complaint centers on allegations against state Sen. Malcolm Smith and New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, who allegedly corrupted Republican county chairmen Joseph Savino, R-Bronx, and Vincent Tabone, R-Queens.
     Two Democrats from the Rockland County village of Spring Valley – Mayor Noramie Jasmine and her deputy Joseph Desmaret – were also arrested for participating in the alleged conspiracy.
     The 28-page complaint describes how all five became snared in Smith’s long-shot mayoral ambitions, overseen from its inception by an undercover FBI agent and an informant.
     Prosecutors said Smith believed it would be easier to get into office as a Republican, but the senator could not switch parties without first getting the majority of GOP county leaders to sign so-called Wilson Pakula certificates, approving party entry.
     According to the complaint, Smith tried to vault this hurdle at a Nov. 16, 2012, meeting in a White Plains hotel, where he asked an FBI agent posing as a developer and an informant to buy the support of those leaders.
     The agent allegedly turned to New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, R-Queens, who was already under investigation for “an unrelated official action,” a consulting contract.
     According to the complaint, Halloran previously told an informant that New York politics was corrupt to the core.
     “They’re all like that, all like that,” Halloran said on Sept. 7, 2012, according to the complaint. “And they get like that because of the drive that the money does for everything else. You can’t do anything without the fucking money.”
     He also mused: “Money is what greases the wheels – good, bad or indifferent,” according to the complaint.
     At the November meeting, Halloran allegedly put his philosophy into practice again by offering to help the agent buy off Savino and “County Chairman 1,” the complaint states.
     There is no indication what happened with the mysterious chairman.
     Last month, Halloran allegedly met with the informant at a Manhattan hotel to report that Savino wanted $25,000 “in an envelope.” The complaint quotes Halloran as saying that Tabone demanded $50,000, “with half of the money before he signed the Wilson Pakula certificate and other half after.”
     Savino and Tabone allegedly met with the agent and the informant at a Manhattan hotel on Valentine’s Day, and later accepted cash payment in agent’s car.
     But Smith was disappointed in how long it took to receive his valentine, the Wilson Pakula certificates, according to the complaint.
     On March 21, Smith told the agent and the informant to “close the … deal.”
     “I’d say, if I even give you a nickel more, you’d 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 added, according to the complaint.
     A little more than a week later, his complaint was filed under seal in the Southern District of New York.
     Meanwhile, over at Spring Valley, Mayor Jasmin and Deputy Desmaret allegedly got snared into the conspiracy through their unrelated courting of the same undercover agent, who again was posing as a developer.
     Desmeret accepted $10,500 to back the agent’s company, and Jasmin asked for a “partnership” interest, according to the complaint.
     When the same informant suggested a 20 percent interest for her, Jasmin allegedly replied, “Partnership is 50-50, right?”
     Smith, whose district includes Spring Valley, got drawn into this corrupt deal more than a year after it initiated, when he agreed to help the agent and informant get funding for roadwork related to the project, according to the complaint.
     Smith and Halloran face up to 45 years in prison, each for a different combination of charges related to the Travel Act, wire fraud and/or the Hobbs Act.
     Tabone and Savino could serve up to 25 years for alleged Travel Act and wire fraud violations.
     Mail fraud charges could spell up to 20 years in prison for Jasmin and Desmaret.

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