Politicians busted in 'bribery plot' to rig mayor race - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Politicians busted in 'bribery plot' to rig mayor race

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Federal authorities arrested state Sen. Malcolm Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Hasmin, Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino, and Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone Tuesday morning as part of a federal bribery investigation.

The six defendants were involved in three bribery schemes that saw tens of thousands of dollars change hands, according to the FBI.

Smith, 56, and Halloran, 42, were reportedly plotting to rig this year's New York City mayoral election through fraud and bribes.
The pair allegedly formed an alliance built on cash payments and fraud to get Smith - one of the state's top Democrats - placed on the GOP mayoral ballot.

Agents arrested them both at their Queens homes shortly after 6 a.m.

Investigators claim that Halloran was paid more than $20,000 to arrange bribe payments to Savino and Tabone so they would support getting Smith on the ballot.

Smith would need the Republican party's support in at least three boroughs in order to run as a GOP candidate without changing his own party affiliation

After a series of meetings to negotiate the price for their approval, Savino and Tabone each met with Halloran and an undercover informant—at separate times, in the same restaurant—to receive payoffs.

FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos issued a statement saying: "Elected officials are called public servants because they are supposed to serve the people. Public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment... As alleged, these defendants did not obey the law; they broke the law and the public trust. There is a price to pay for that kind of betrayal."

In August, Smith confirmed to Fox 5 News that he was considering running for mayor of New York City on the Republican line.

Smith represents a liberal part of Queens but he supports the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program and expanding charter schools.

Smith said he was focused on his reelection to the state Senate, but after that may consider running for mayor. He said he had spoken to some GOP leaders about it.

A spokesman for Smith said that the senator would be "vindicated."

"The Senator has record of 13 years of dedication, hard work and integrity to the people he serves in Queens," said spokesman Todd Shapiro. "He has provided to the heath, safety and well-being of the almost 20 million residents in New York."

The FBI said that Mayor Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Desmaret conspired to rig the sale of a parcel of Spring Valley property.

"The integrity of the electoral process for the voters of New York City must be preserved," New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox said in a statement.

While at an event in Buffalo on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called the arrests "troubling."

"We have zero tolerance for any violation of the public integrity and the public trust," Cuomo said, according to the AP.

MyFoxNY/with the Associated Press

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