New York State Sen. Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran were arrested in a FBI corruption probe Tuesday morning on charges they attempted to buy Smith a seat on the Republican ballot in the 2013 mayoral election.
Smith, a Democrat from Queens, stands accused of working with Republican Halloran to garner support for his mayoral run via cash payments and bribes, the NY Post reports. In order for a non-Republican candidate like Smith to get on the ballot he would need support from three of five borough party leaders.
FBI officials also raided the homes of Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone and Bronx Republican chairman Jay Savino, who allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for supporting Smith. Mayor of Spring Valley in Rockland County Norami Jasmin and her deputy mayor Joseph Desmaret were also taken into custody today. His consideration to run was publicized, but Smith had not yet thrown his hat into the race.
All six are expected to appear in federal court today in White Plains, NY.
“I have no idea,” said handcuffed Halloran to the Post when asked why he was being arrested. “I’m sure the truth will come out once I have an opportunity to find out what’s going on.”
“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," FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said today in a written statement.
"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,” he added.
The 28-page complaint against the suspects shows an undercover FBI agent posed as a wealthy real estate mogul and was taken on to facilitate the scheme between politicians and county leaders. The FBI reportedly has hours of taped conversations dating back to November and recorded as recently as last week.
Prosecutors are expected to hold a press conference later today laying out the entire conspiracy plot.