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Two Convictions in NYC Political-Bribery Scheme

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) - A federal jury handed down a pair of convictions Thursday tied to a plot over New York City's mayoral election ticket.

Malcolm Smith and Vincent Tabone were among six indicted over the plot to have Smith, a former Democratic state senator, run for mayor as a Republican.

Smith needed approval of three Republican Party county chairmen to run for mayor on the Republican ticket.

Prosecutors said Tabone, vice chairman the Queens County Republican Party, took $40,000 in cash bribes to approve of Smith's Republican candidacy.

The indictment said Smith "used an undercover FBI agent (the 'UC') and a cooperating witness (the 'CW') to negotiate and pay the bribes on his behalf."

"In return for the assistance of the UC and the CW, Smith agreed to use his office as a New York state senator to help the UC and the CW obtain $500,000 in New York State transportation money for a road project associated with a real estate development project in the Village that Smith understood the UC and the CW to be developing," the indictment continued.

The indictment also cited times and places where bribes were allegedly paid and accepted, and transcripts of apparently incriminating conversations.

Midway through the alleged bribery scheme, Smith was allegedly recorded telling the FBI agent: "Whatever you gave them, you know, is you know there. And trust me, they don't, even if they screw, let's just say they screwed you and me and said, you know, I'm not doing anything. The worst part about that is, when you screw somebody over money like that ... you know, that's the worst ... you're looking over your shoulder all the rest of your life. ... You're looking over your shoulder because, because, not only that, this world is too small. ... Yeah, the world is too small. And any time you do that, imagine you came to me and said, Malcolm, they screwed me. ... I got them already asking me about judgeships, because you know judgeships now come through here, it comes through the governor." (Ellipses in indictment.)

U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara announced Smith and Tabone's convictions Thursday and emphasized the involvement in the scheme of another Republican official, New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran of Queens.

"And sadly, this was just one of many pockets of corruption this office has uncovered in New York, which has become the 'show me the money' state," Bharara said in a statement. "It should not be asking too much to expect public officials at least to obey the law. This office will continue the vigorous prosecution of political corruption until every public official understands that violating the public trust will likely land you in prison."

The other three names from the 2013 indictment were Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Savino, Village of Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, and that village's deputy mayor, Joseph Desmaret.

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