New York State Senator Malcolm Smith Will Begin Trial on Bribery, Extortion Charges

MICHAEL DABIN State Sen. Malcolm Smith (right) is facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted of bribery conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion.
MICHAEL DABIN
State Sen. Malcolm Smith (right) is facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted of bribery conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion.

The Democrat from Queens has also been charged with wire fraud, and faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Smith, who heads to trial Monday, is accused of trying to buy a spot on the 2013 mayoral ballot as a Republican by paying off the city’s GOP bosses.

Malcolm Smith once had his sights set on Gracie Mansion. Now a jury will be asked to send him to the Big House.

The Democratic state senator from Queens — who is seeking re-election despite his legal woes — heads to trial Monday in White Plains Federal Court on charges he tried to buy a spot on the 2013 mayoral ballot as a Republican by paying off the city’s GOP bosses.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the latest in a series of New York public corruption prosecutions.

Smith, 57, faces a maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison if convicted of bribery conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion, while activists hope a guilty verdict will inspire better oversight of lawmakers.

“This case matters because it illustrates a transactional culture in Albany that is all-pervasive,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a good government group.

The Queens pol, arrested on April 2, 2013, will pursue an entrapment defense, arguing the feds used a devious cooperating witness — Rockland County businessman Moses Stern — to snare him in a scheme they concocted.

His fellow defendants are former Queens City Councilman Daniel Halloran and ex-Queens Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone.

Prosecutors claim $80,000 in cash was promised or paid to Halloran, Tabone and Bronx GOP Chairman Joseph Savino, who pleaded out last year.

“Malcolm Smith did not authorize bribes or any other improper payments to Republican county leaders,” said Gerald Shargel, Smith’s defense lawyer.

“For nearly a year, an aggressive FBI agent teamed up with a self-confessed fraudster … in an effort to entrap the senator in a criminal plot — a plot the senator never joined.”

But the jury will likely hear Smith on tape making statements which suggest otherwise.

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Source: New York Daily News |  

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