(CN) - A federal judge sentenced former New York City councilman Daniel Halloran to 10 years in prison for his role in a bribery plot to hijack the city's mayoral elections, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Halloran, 43, arranged bribes for New York City Republican leaders to allow State Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, to run for mayor on the Republican ballot line in 2013.
Halloran - a Republican representing Queens and one of the nation's first practicing pagans elected to public office - negotiated $50,000 in bribes for Queens County Republican Party vice chair Vincent Tabone and $30,000 for Bronx County Republican Party chair Joseph Savino.
In exchange, the Republican leaders agreed to let Smith run for mayor on their ticket. For his efforts, Halloran accepted a $15,500 down payment on a "broker's fee" of $75,000 and expected to be named first deputy mayor if Smith won.
Following an undercover investigation by the FBI, the Justice Department handed down indictments of Halloran, Smith, Savino, Tabone and two others in 2013. A federal jury convicted Smith and Tabone last month; they will be sentenced in July.
In addition to the bribery scheme, Halloran also accepted an upfront kickback of $15,000 for agreeing to steer up to $80,000 in New York City Council discretionary funding to a company he believed was controled by those bribing him. In reality, the company was a sham set up by the FBI to catch Halloran and the others.
Halloran also approached the undercover agent for help in raising funds for a Congressional run, the Justice Department said.
During a discussion with the agent and a cooperating witness, Halloran said: "That's politics, it's all about how much. Not whether or will, it's about how much, and that's our politicians in New York, they're all like that. 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."
After the cooperating witness paid Halloran $7,500, the now-former councilman said, "Money is what greases the wheels - good, bad or indifferent," and agreed to write letters on New York City Council letterhead about the work the company would do for the $80,000 - although Halloran agreed no work would actually be done by the company.
Besides 10 years in prison, Halloran will serve two years' supervised probation and was ordered to forfeit $45,300.
At the sentencing, U.S District Judge Kenneth Karas rebuked Halloran for the damage he did to other political leaders in the eyes of their constituents.
"When a public official gets into cars and takes wads of cash or promises public money in return for cash to the politician, it is so troubling," Karas said. "It causes us all to be cynical about our leaders. It causes us to doubt that our leaders are looking after us. And it's a very serious matter."
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara agreed.
"When elected officials like Daniel Halloran not only corrupt themselves but, unseen, corrupt the body politic from within they undermine the public's confidence in a representative form of government," he said.
Halloran practices Theodism and is a member of the New Normannii Reik, a branch of Germanic neopaganism. The Village Voice dubbed him "America's first elected heathen," although another neopagan won a seat on the Centralia, Mo., city council in 2006.