State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, who sided with an “independent” group to give control of the State Senate to Republicans, was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday with charges of wire fraud, extortion and bribery in an attempt to get onto the Republican ballot for mayor of New York City. Republican City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran III and four Republican Party leaders were also arrested for their part in the conspiracy. All have been released on $250,000 bail.
FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos
said that the six defendants were involved in three bribery schemes that saw tens of thousands of dollars change hands.
“The common thread was that evidence of the three schemes was mainly gathered by two participants: unbeknownst to the corrupt officials, these two were working for the FBI. One is a cooperating witness (CW), the other is an FBI agent working undercover and posing as a wealthy real estate developer.
“The fact is, while the CW and the undercover did great work, they did not have to twist any arms. The defendants were eager to take bribes or have bribes paid on their behalf.”
The corruption extended to Rockland County where, “in exchange for paying the bribes for Smith, the CW and undercover were promised a half-million dollars in state transportation funding for their Spring Valley real estate project”.
The FBI complaint shows elected representatives behaving as underworld mobsters with clandestine meetings in cars, restaurants, hotel rooms and exchanges of envelopes of tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
In his statement, FBI Asst. Director Venizelos said that “City Councilman Daniel Halloran was paid more than $20,000 to arrange bribe payments to Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino and Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone so they would grant the Wilson-Pakula letters for Smith.
“After a series of meetings to negotiate the price for their approval, Savino and Tabone each met with Halloran and the undercover—at separate times in the same restaurant—to receive their payoffs from the undercover. This was Valentine’s Day, but the way to their hearts wasn’t a box of chocolates or a dozen roses. It was cold hard cash in an envelope.
“When Tabone, was asked if he could deliver the Wilson-Pakula letter, he boasted to the undercover, “Nobody else runs the party. I run the party.”
“Clearly aware the scheme was illegal, Tabone patted down the undercover to see if he was wearing a recording device. He was—but Tabone was less skilled at conducting a pat-down than he was at conducting a shakedown.”