Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Buying City Hall

Bx. GOP chair among those charged in attempt to buy mayoral race

By Robert Press

BRONX, NEW YORK, April 3- In a six count indictment released by the United States Attorney, State Senator Malcolm Smith, Queens Councilman Dan Halloran, Bronx County Republican Leader Joseph Savino, and Queens county Republican Vice-Chair Vincent Tabone were arrested for attempting to fix the Republican candidate choice in the upcoming mayors race in New York City by defrauding the public. Also as part of the indictment the mayor and deputy mayor of Spring Valley were arrested for their alleged part in a scheme with Senator Smith to defraud New York State on a contract Smith was to have approved with the officials for a Spring Valley road.

Starting from about November 2012 the complaint states that Smith, Hallogan, Savino, and Tabone (together with others known and unknown) willfully and knowingly did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together with each other to commit offenses against the United States, to wit, wire fraud and bribery in violation of Title 18, United States
code, sections 1343, 1346, and 1952.

Undercover FBI agent (Thomas Holmes) posing as a wealthy real estate developer and an unidentified cooperating witness met with Smith to bribe leaders of the Republican Party County Committee to obtain certificates of authorization called Wilson Pakula certificates
allowing Smith to run as a Republican candidate for mayor of New York City even though Smith was a registered Democrat. It is then alleged that Queens Councilman Dan Halloran met with the pair to negotiate the amount of bribes to Savino and Tabone for the Wilson Pakula certificates, and Halloran was given $20,500 for his services.

According to the indictment, Smith agreed to use his official position to obtain New York State funds for the Spring Valley Project. Savino met the undercover agent in a Manhattan restaurant and allegedly accepted $15,000 in cash in the undercover agent’s car. Tabone met the UC in a Manhattan restaurant and allegedly accepted $25,000 in cash in the undercover agent’s car. Also in February Smith suggested that the undercover agent and the state senator representing the Spring Valley area meet concerning the funding for the Spring Valley project.

In March, telephone and text messages continued between the undercover agent, a witness, Smith, and Halloran as to the status of the Wilson Pakulas. Smith is quoted as saying, “Before any committee leader receives a nickel more (he'd) have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person (he) endorsed, and hold Malcolm up and
say he's the best thing since sliced bread”. “Matter of fact, he's better than sliced bread”.

FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos made the following comments on the arrests of New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, New York City Council Member Daniel Halloran, and others: “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. People in New York, in Spring Valley—in any city or town in this country—rightly expect their elected or appointed representatives to hold themselves to a higher standard. At the very least, public officials should obey the law. 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.”

No comments: