Malcolm Smith

Malcolm Smith Sentenced To 7 Years

Malcolm Smith, the Democratic former Senate majority leader who was convicted of trying to bribe his way onto the New York City Republican mayoral ballot, was sentenced on Wednesday to seven years in federal prison.

Smith is due to surrender to authorities on Sept. 21.

Smith was convicted earlier this year on charges that he sought to arrange bribes for various Republican officials in New York City in order to obtain a Wilson-Pakula waiver so he would qualify for the GOP ballot in the 2013 race for mayor.

Smith briefly served as majority leader of the Senate during a tumultuous time and was forced to step aside following the resolution of a leadership coup in 2009.

Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson replaced Smith as the Democratic conference leader in the aftermath of the coup. Sampson currently faces charges that he siphoned money from an escrow account he controlled in order to fund his campaign for district attorney.

Smith’s arrest in 2013 led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for a package of ethics legislation, including an end to the Wilson-Pakula waiver and other reforms, that state lawmakers declined to adopt.

Cuomo, in turn, would later appoint a subpoena-empowered Moreland Commission that July in order to investigate the intersection of money and public influence in the Legislature.

Less than a year later, the panel was shuttered following an agreement in the state budget for new ethics measures, such as an independent enforcement counsel at the state Board of Elections.

The work generated by the commission, as well as the decision to shut it down, is now being investigated by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Smith Seeks Support

Also from the Morning Memo…

Another former legislative leader, ex-Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, is considerably further along down the corruption pipeline than ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Queens Democrat, who lost his seat in a primary last fall, was found guilty earlier this month of trying to bribe his way into the 2013 NYC mayor’s race on the GOP line.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on July 1 and faces up to 45 years behind bars. His attorney has said he intends to appeal.

In the meantime, however, the embattled former senator is seeking “as many letters as possible sent to the judge regarding my impact on individual lives and the community,” according to an email Smith is sending to friends and allies he says have provided “past support and prayers.”

The email, a copy of which was forwarded to CapTon, includes instruction and an attached “guideline” letter penned by Smith’s attorney, Evan Lipton. “Please help as this is critical to my life and future,” the former senator wrote.

Lipton suggests that Smith’s supporters “carefully consider” what to say to US District Court Judge Kenneth Karas to help him “come to know Malcolm as a person” and persuade him that the former senator “deserves a lenient and merciful sentence.”

“(I)t is imperative that you rely on specific, first-hand examples of how Malcolm has touched your life and the lives of others,” Lipton wrote.

“…instead of just stating conclusions about Malcolm’s character, your letter should provide facts underlying those conclusions – in other words, specific examples and experiences involving Malcolm that give rise to your view of him or his reputation within the community. Personal anecdotes of instances that portray Malcolm’s character and personality would be helpful.”

Lipton cautions letter writers that they should use their own words and not resort to “legalese”, explaining: “Rest assured that the lawyers will file all the necessary legal documents with the Court.
You should speak from your heart and present personal information and emotions about Malcolm.”

It is pretty standard for convicted offenders facing sentencing to solicit letters of support attesting to their good works and strong characters (aside from whatever it was than landed them in court to begin with) in hopes of persuading the judge to be lenient.

Ex-Sen. Malcolm Smith seeks support in face of corruption conviction. by liz_benjamin6490

Malcolm Smith Guilty On All Counts (Updated)

Former Sen. Malcolm Smith was found guilty on Thursday of attempting to bribe his way on the New York City mayoral ballot.

Jurors met for only four hours this morning before emerging to pronounce Smith guilty on all charges.

Smith, a Democrat and a former Senate majority leader, was arrested in 2013 on charges that he helped orchestrate a scheme to obtain a Wilson-Pakula waiver in order to run as a Republican in the race for mayor.

Former city Councilman Dan Halloran was also ensnared in the scheme that federal prosecutors said involved conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion charges.

Halloran was convicted in July for his role as an intermediary in the effort to have Smith put on the ballot.

Smith lost his seat in the Senate last year after losing a Democratic primary to LeRoy Comrie.

Smith is the latest in a line of state lawmakers to be convicted on federal corruption charges.

Last month, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on charges of bribery and kickbacks.

Updated: Also convicted today was former Queens Republican Committee Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, who charged with also participating in the scheme to put Smith on the GOP ballot for mayor.

“It should not be asking too much to expect public officials at least to obey the law,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “This Office will continue the vigorous prosecution of political corruption until every public official understands that violating the public trust will likely land you in prison.”

In a separate statement, Comrie said he was “saddened by this turn of events.”

“Public corruption is unacceptable and our community is demanding more accountability and transparency,” he said.

Ex-Councilman Halloran Guilty On All Five Counts

A jury today found ex-Queens Councilman Dan Halloran guilty on all five counts of the corruption charges he faced stemming in part from his role in a bribery scheme to sell the GOP line in the 2013 NYC mayoral primary.

US Attorney Preet Bharara issued the following statement:

“With today’s verdict of guilty reached by an impartial and independent jury, the clean-up of corruption in New York continues in courtrooms. As the jury unanimously found, Daniel Halloran played a key role in two distinct political corruption schemes: first, for $20,000, Halloran was willing and able to serve as a go-between to deliver bribes to political party officials, and second he also took nearly $25,000 in cash and illegal campaign contributions to steer $80,000 in City Council money to other bribe payers.”

“Dan Halloran was the lone defendant in the trial that just ended in his conviction, but he is unfortunately not alone in a crowded field of New York officials who are willing to sell out their offices for self-enrichment.”

“This Office will continue the vigorous prosecution of political corruption to secure for the people of New York – regardless of party affiliation – what they deserve: the honest labors of their elected representatives. And we will continue to partner with the FBI, whose outstanding investigative work in this case was instrumental to achieving a just result.”

Halloran, a Republican, was charged with taking more than $20,000 in payoffs from two undercover FBI operatives posing as corrupt developers in exchange for agreeing to funnel public cash to them and to help bribe Republican NYC county leaders to allow Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith, also of Queens, to run Row B in the party’s mayoral primary.

(That race was eventually won by former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, who lost the general election in a landslide to the winner of the Democratic primary, current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio).

Testifying in his own defense, Halloran admitted taking the cash, but said he considered the money payment for consulting services and never procured any public funds for the real estate developers/FBI agents.

Originally, Halloran and Smith were once co-defendants, along with former Queens GOP official Vince Tabone. But attorneys for Smith and Tabone opted to accept a mistrial due to a procedural error having to do with Yiddish phone recordings, while Halloran’s attorney decided to proceed as scheduled.

Smith and Tabone will be re-tried in January, and today’s verdict perhaps is not the best omen for them. In the meantime, Smith is seeking re-election, though he has been cast out from both the Democratic Senate conference (which he once led) and the IDC.

Mistrial Declared In Malcolm Smith Corruption Case

From our colleagues at NY1:

A Westchester County judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial in the corruption case against Democratic Queens Sen. Malcolm Smith after four jurors needed to excused as the case was expected to continue for another month.

The proceedings in White Plains have been moving slowly, while officials translate recordings of a Rockland County businessman which were in Yiddish.

A new trial is being scheduled for January.

Smith, a Democrat, is accused of trying to bribe Republican officials into letting him run for mayor on the GOP line last year by obtaining a Wilson-Pakula letter.

Former City Councilman Dan Halloran of Queens is also accused of acting as a bag man in the case between Smith and the county Republican officials.

His trial is proceeding.

And Now The Cherry On Top Of The Week

malcolmsmithmothersday

This was blasted out by the office of the under-indictment Sen. Malcolm Smith this morning.

Smith: ‘I’m Here to Serve My Constiutents’

smith

Sen. Malcolm Smith is a man without a conference.

The Queens Democrat is back in Albany today less than two weeks after he was charged in a bribery scheme with the alleged goal of putting himself on the New York City Republican mayoral ballot.

Smith seemed noticeably subdued in speaking with reporters, declining to discuss the charges.

“I stand by my lawyer’s statements,” he told Daily News bureau chief Ken Lovett and CapTon’s Bryan Terry.  

Smith was booted from the Independent Democratic Conference after his arrest and was stripped of his leadership titles, including vice chairman of the conference and the chairman of the Senate Social Services committee.

“I’m still in the chamber, I understand, I’m still here to do my job,” he said.

It remains to be seen how effective Smith can be in the chamber, given that he is no longer a member of any of the three conferences. Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins today said at a news conference that Smith hasn’t asked to return to the Democratic conference and it would be highly unlikely if the conference wanted him back.

Smith’s seat in the Senate chamber has been moved to the far left-hand corner of the room, a chair previously held by Sen. Carl Kruger, who sat that spot after he was indicted on corruption charges.

“I have an obligation to serve my constituents,” Smith said of his reason fro being in Albany.  “I’m interested in serving the constituents in my district,” he said.

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Smith Dodges On Kruger, Preaches Ethics Reform

Former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith refused to say very much of anything on Sen. Carl Kruger’s influence peddling charges this morning, other than to stress that he believes this latest incident of corruption at the Capitol underscores the need for ethics reform.

Smith, a Queens Democrat who lost control of the conference during the 2009 Senate coup, retaining only figurehead title of “president,” dodged on questions about the campaign cash he had received from Kruger – he actually professed to know nothing about that – and on whether he regrets elevating the Brooklyn lawmaker to the position of Senate Finance chairman.

“What I regret is that we haven’t done an ethics reform package that I was very aggressive in trying to pursue a few years ago,” Smith told reporters. “So, hopefully we’ll get that done.”

Smith, who was named in the scathing IG report on the AEG mess along with Senate Minority Leader (then Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson) and Sen. Eric Adams, among others, also said the question of whether Kruger should retain his ranking position on the Senate Finance Committee is “a matter for the leader to decide in the conference.”

“My position is one where I think we need to just move forward on ethics reform and try to make sure that people understand that it’s very important to us.”

“…What is important right now is continuing to restore the confidence of the public and how we do that is we make sure the ethics package that the governor’s putting forward comes out and we support it and move forward so that things like this don’t happen.”

Mayor Mayer?

Shelley Mayer, who has served as counsel to the Senate Democrats since they took the majority in 2008, confirmed she is among the central staffers who will be departing Albany now that the conference is back in the minority.

Mayer has no new job lined up, but might take yet another stab at entering the political arena herself.

Within the coming weeks, Mayer will decide whether to enter the Yonkers mayoral race. (The current mayor, Phil Amicone, who took a pass on a challenge to Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins last fall, is prohibited by term limits from seeking re-election this year).

Mayer’s potential campaign is being championed by Sen. Malcolm Smith, who hired her back in 2008. (Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson kept her own when he ascended to power following the 2009 coup).

Smith was touting Mayer last night at the 74 State hotel bar, where many pols, lobbyists and operatives were gathered on the eve of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first State of the State address. He and Mayer were sitting with former Queens Sen. John Sabini.

Mayer told me she had decided to leave the public payroll and return home to care for her elderly parents. However, she did not deny an interest in possibly running for office herself.

If Mayer does throw her hat into the ring, she could end up facing off against an old nemesis: Assemblyman Mike Spano, who has also been mentioned as a potential mayoral contender.

Mayer unsuccessfully challenged Spano in 2006 in her first, and so far only, campaign. At the time, Spano was a Republican. He has since changed his enrollment and joined the Democratic majority in the Assembly.

Also being mentioned as a possible candidate is Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick.

Senate Dems Boot Espada

Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran just released the following statement:

“In light of Senator Pedro Espada’s indictment, he has been removed as Majority Leader and Chair of the Senate Housing Committee effective immediately.”

Technically speaking, it’s Democratic Conference Chairman John Sampson who controls the committee chairmanships and Senate President Malcolm Smith who has the sole power to strip Espada of his leadership post.

As you’ll recall, the Democrats split the president and majority leader positions apart following the 2009 coup and let Espada keep the former title as part of the agreement that drew him back to the fold and ended the 31-day stalemate.

It was largely a ceremonial post, although there was also quite a sizable chunk of change that went along with it, most of which Espada spent on bulking up his staff.

The Democrats didn’t want to force all their members to vote “yes” on making Espada majority leader – the likelihood of them getting to 32 was pretty low, considering the folks like Sens. Neil Breslin and Liz Krueger would have probably rebelled.

So, in the end, Smith was elected president and then he appointed Espada majority leader. Hence, the power to remove Espada rested solely with Smith.

I also can’t help but point out the fact that today’s indictments came on the heels of Espada’s taxpayer-funded back-patting report …to think he might have actually believed that was somehow going to deflect attention from his criminal charges…bizarre.