Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, was at the center of a massive bribery scandal to get the Republican nomination for New York City mayor, federal prosecutors said today.
Smith, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, arranged for $40,000 to be paid to Vincent Tabone and Joseph Savino, two New York City Republican county leaders. Then New York City Councilman Charles Halloran received about $20,500 in cash bribes to act as an intermediary with Tabone and Savino on Smith’s behalf, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Halloran also received about $18,300 in cash bribes and $6,500 in “straw donor campaign contribution checks” in exchange for agreeing to steer up to $80,000 of New York City Council discretionary funding to a company he believed was controlled by those who paid him the bribes, Bharara said. Instead, it was an undercover officer and a cooperating witness with Bharara’s office and the FBI.
Then, in Spring Valley, Rockland County, Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret were tied to a phony local real-estate project. Jasmin had a hidden interest in the project, and Desmaret received $10,500 in exchange for their votes in favor of the project.
Bharara told reporters that the corruption in Albany seems “pervasive.”
“Not every state Legislature has this degree of criminality that has been exposed,” Bharara said.
In exchange for the payment of bribes to Tabone and Savino, an undercover officer and a cooperating witness got Smith to agree to obtain $500,000 in state aid for a road project in Spring Valley, the complaint alleges.
Halloran, meanwhile, agreed to steer to $80,000 in New York City Council discretionary funding to the fake company, Bharara said.
“That’s politics, 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 f***ing money,” Halloran allegedly said in wiretaps.
Halloran added: “Money is what greases the wheels – good bad, or indifferent.”
Since September 2011, Jasmin and Desmaret personally benefited from the project through their votes on the board, the complaint alleges.
Jasmin demanded a partnership interest in the company, stating: “So for me, it’s better for us to partner, that’s what I said to you before; a partnership will be best,” according to the complaint.
When offered a 20 percent stake, Jasmin replied, “Partnership is fifty fifty, right?”