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“Six arrested in bribery probe of New York mayor’s race”

QuestCinq.com/News/4/02/13

Six New York politicians were arrested for their alleged role in a bribery scandal in which a prominent Democrat paid top Republicans for permission to run on their ticket in the city’s upcoming mayoral race, prosecutors said.

Democratic state Senator Malcolm Smith and five Republicans connected to the bribery scandal were arrested on Tuesday morning, an official at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan said.

 
 

Prosecutors described the scheme as an attempt to game the city’s first wide-open mayoral election in 12 years. New York will choose a new mayor in November, when Michael Bloomberg’s third term comes to an end.

The charges include bribery, extortion, and wire and mail fraud.

“A show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”

Authorities arrested five Republicans: City Councilman Daniel Halloran, Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Savino, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.

Representatives of the six officials all either declined to comment or did not respond to phone calls on Tuesday morning.

“A PRETTY PENNY”

Prosecutors said Tabone and Savino received a total of $40,000 in bribes for promising to support Smith. Halloran was said to have gotten $20,500 for setting up a meeting with people Smith believed were supporters but were in fact a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent.

In a January meeting, Smith, one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the state Senate, and the unnamed cooperating witness discussed the cost of the bribes, prosecutors said.

“It’s worth it as long as they’re going to do it,” Smith said, according to court papers released on Tuesday. “He can’t tell you he’s going to do it and then doesn’t do it … You know, don’t waste a pretty penny.”

Since 2000, Smith has represented a district in eastern Queens that includes Jamaica as well as wealthier neighborhoods near Nassau County.

Jasmin and Desmaret were charged for their role in a related bribery incident involving a proposed real estate project in Spring Valley, a suburban town located about 35 miles north of New York City.

Bloomberg, a former Democrat, changed his party affiliation to Republican before his first run in 2001 and later became an independent.

A large field of candidates hope to fill his desk at City Hall. The most prominent contenders include City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, current Comptroller John Liu and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota.

Of that field, only Lhota is a Republican.

Source: Reuters

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