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US Attorney: Smith promised cash in exchange for GOP nod

NEW YORK CITY— A democratic state senator and five others are facing bribery charges, among others, after the US Attorney’s office said they paid cash in exchange for the GOP nod in the race for New York City Mayor.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, D- NYC, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, along with Vincent Tabone, Queens County Republican Committee Chairman, and Joseph Savino, the Bronx County Republican Committee Chairman were all arrested Tuesday morning by the FBI and charged with a bribery plot to gain votes in the race for Mayor of New York City.

The allegations against the group states the bribes were to republicans to allow Smith, a Democrat, to run for Mayor of New York City as a Republican even though he is a registered Democrat.

According to the US Attorney's report, Senator Smith, through Halloran, took money from a "cooperating witness" and an undercover FBI agent posing as businessmen with deep pockets, to use to pay off Bronx GOP leader Savino and Queens GOP leader Tabone. In all $80,000 was promised to the two men, half was paid upfront in cash with a promise for the other half to be paid later, the report said.  

The exchanges of money took place in a vehicle in Manhattan while meetings took places in hotels, and even Smith’s Albany senate office, the report stated.

At one point in March, when Smith felt as though the process was moving to slow, he said there would be no more upfront money, according to the report.

"(not) even a nickel more, (he'd) have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person (he) endorsed and hold Malcolm up and says he's the best thing since sliced bread. Matter of fact, he's better than sliced bread,' the report stated.

 “(Malcolm) Smith drew up the game plan Councilman (Dan) Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive,” said US Attorney Preet Bharara.

It wasn’t all private money in play, Bharara stated, claiming Senator Smith also promised the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Spring Valley, a city about 30 miles outside of  New York, a half million dollars in state money Smith said he could secure for a road project.
 
If the deal went through the mayor of Spring Valley would become a small investor of the project, but her name would not be made public, said Bharara.

Senator Malcolm Smith's office released a statement saying “He will be vindicated when all the facts are proven.”

Smith is a current member of the New York State Senate. Although he is a Democrat, he caucuses with the IDC, 5 breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

The six people charged are out on bail, they are expected back in court April 23rd.