New York Senator Malcolm Smith (democrat) is accused of enlisting the help of New York City Councilman Dan Halloran (republican) to bribe GOP officials so that Smith could run as their candidate.
Dos legisladores de Nueva York y varias figuras políticas estatales han sido acusadas de un esquema de corrupción dirigido a ganar la próxima elección a la alcaldía de Nueva York. El senador demócrata estatal Malcolm Smith, está acusado de coludirse con el concejal de Nueva York Dan Halloran, un republicano, para sobornar a funcionarios del Partido Republicano y lograr que Smith pueda competir como su candidato. Preet Bharara, Fiscal de EE.UU. para el Distrito Sur de Nueva York, dio a conocer la acusación.
Preet Bharara: "Los cargos que hago públicos hoy demuestran, una vez más, que la cultura de “show-me-the-money” (“muéstrame la plata” o “como es” en español) parece impregnar todos los niveles del gobierno de Nueva York En el corazón de las denuncias está un senador demócrata de Queens, Malcolm Smith, que creía que él podría, y debería, ser el alcalde de Nueva York, y que, al servicio de esa ambición, trató de sobornar para lograr su llegada a Gracie mansión, la residencia del alcalde de Nueva York. El Senador Smith elaboró su trama de soborno con el concejal Dan Halloran, una especie de mariscal de campo en la búsqueda de presidentes de partido a nivel de distrito, abiertos a recibir sobornos ".
Otros acusados incluyen, al presidente del Partido Republicano en el distrito del Bronx, Jay Savino y al líder del Partido Republicano en el distrito de Queens, Vincent Tabone, acusados de aceptar un soborno de 40.000 dólares.
El fiscal estadounidense Preet Bharara comparece ante la prensa para hablar de la detención de varios políticos bajo la acusación de intentar amañar las próximas elecciones municipales de Nueva York.
Varios políticos detenidos por intentar amañar las elecciones de Nueva York
Nueva York, 2 abr (EFE).- La fiscalía federal de Nueva York anunció hoy que han sido detenidos varios políticos de ámbito estatal y local, entre ellos un senador, acusados de intento de amañar las elecciones municipales neoyorquinas de noviembre próximo.
Se trata del senador estatal Malcolm Smith (demócrata), el concejal neoyorquino Daniel Halloran (republicano), varios líderes del Partido Republicano en los barrios de Queens y Bronx, así como la alcaldesa del pequeño pueblo de Spring Valley y su adjunto.
Smith, quien fue presidente del Senado del estado de Nueva York entre 2008 y 2010, está acusado de presuntamente sobornar a Halloran, así como al presidente del Partido Republicano del Bronx, Joseph Savino, y el vicepresidente de dicha fuerza en Queens, Vincent Tabone, en busca de apoyo para ser candidato republicano a la alcaldía.
Malcolm Smith, constructor y promotor inmobiliario, mantuvo con los detenidos una serie de reuniones que fueron grabadas por un agente encubierto del FBI (la policía federal de EEUU) y un testigo, quienes simulaban ser promotores para formar parte de la trama.
Según la fiscalía federal del distrito sur de Nueva York, Savino y Tabone recibieron cada uno 40.000 dólares en metálico y tenían la promesa de una cantidad similar una vez que lograran que Smith pudiera presentarse a las elecciones municipales de noviembre como republicano.
Supuestamente, Halloran también habría recibido dinero a cambio de su mediación.
El objetivo de la operación era lograr que los presidentes del Partido Republicano en los cinco barrios de la ciudad autorizaran a Smith a presentarse por esa fuerza incluso siendo miembro del Partido Demócrata.
Smith, que fue el primer afroamericano en alcanzar la presidencia del Senado del estado de Nueva York, fue depuesto por su propio partido en 2010 y dos años después se unió a un grupo de senadores demócratas moderados que a su vez se vinculó a los republicanos para formar una mayoría conservadora en esa cámara.
Los detenidos prestarán declaración esta tarde, según el comunicado de la fiscalía en el que da cuenta de la operación y sus resultados.
"Las acusaciones de hoy demuestran, una vez más, que la cultura del dinero fácil parece pervivir en cada nivel del gobierno de Nueva York", señaló en la nota el fiscal federal Preet Bharara, quien recordó que "en los últimos años se han registrado varios casos de corrupción política en la ciudad".
"Seguiremos persiguiendo y castigando a cualquier funcionario corrupto que encontremos, pero la crisis de corrupción pública en Nueva York es algo más que el problema de un fiscal", recalcó Bharara.
Lawmakers in New York Tied to Bribery Plot in Mayor Race
Lawmakers in New York Tied to Bribery Plot in Mayor Race
The two men sat in the state senator’s parked car in suburban Rockland County, but New York City was at the front of their minds and the focus of their conversation.
What the senator, Malcolm A. Smith, wanted to do, the other man explained, was going to cost “a pretty penny.”
“But it’s worth it,” replied Senator Smith, a Democrat, according to a transcript of the January meeting. “Because you know how big a deal it is.”
His plan, described by federal prosecutors in a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday, was as ambitious as it was audacious. Mr. Smith was going to bribe his way onto the ballot to run for mayor of New York.
But he needed help, from a disparate cast of characters, including a Republican City Council member from Queens, Daniel J. Halloran III, and two Republican leaders from Queens and the Bronx, Vincent Tabone and Joseph J. Savino. And he needed the help of the other man in the car, who, unbeknown to Mr. Smith, was a cooperating witness for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was recording the whole conversation.
Instead of appearing on the ballot, Mr. Smith’s name has landed in a marquee spot on the criminal complaint. On Tuesday, he, Councilman Halloran and the Republican Party leaders were charged with wire fraud and bribery. The senator was also charged with extortion.
The charges immediately reverberated in the New York political world, especially in Albany, where, despite the efforts of government watchdogs and prosecutors, new scandals and criminal charges seem to surface every legislative session.
And in the race for mayor, the news intensified the worry some voters feel about the city’s machine politics reasserting their dominance upon the departure of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a political independent whose inner circle has been largely free of corruption.
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan whose office is prosecuting the case, said the arrests demonstrated that “a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government.”
The complaint described envelopes of cash trading hands in Manhattan hotel rooms and restaurants, payments of thousands of dollars to persuade Republican leaders in New York to put Senator Smith, from Queens, on the Republican ballot in November. The bribes were to be paid to obtain certificates authorizing him to run for mayor as a Republican even though he was a registered Democrat.
Mr. Halloran, a police cadet for a few months more than 20 years ago, imagined himself becoming a deputy police commissioner or deputy mayor in a Smith administration, according to the complaint. The scheme seemed to play out without regard for the extreme long shot Mr. Smith, a near perennial subject of corruption inquiries, would face in the election.
The transcripts of conversations with an F.B.I. agent posing as a businessman, included in the complaint, are a blend of blasé and cliché, with shrugs of business-as-usual cynicism — “That’s politics,” Mr. Halloran said in one meeting — and B-movie underworld lingo, where “money greases the wheels,” another phrase attributed to Mr. Halloran. At least two meetings, on Valentine’s Day, occurred in the Sparks Steak House, the scene of the gangland execution of Paul Castellano in 1985.
The case reached outside the city, too, and includes charges against the mayor of Spring Valley, N.Y., a village in Rockland County, and her deputy, who are accused of taking bribes to sell village land for a proposed community center. The F.B.I., with agents pretending to be developers for the project, even created a rendering of the facility, presenting it to village leaders at a meeting. “Coming Soon!” the text with the rendering read.
Mr. Smith has said publicly that he was mulling a run for mayor on the Republican ticket; the complaint suggests far more than mulling. The first meetings described in the complaint took place last November, with the election about a year away.
Getting on the ballot would require signatures from a majority of the city’s five Republican chairmen. In a meeting in a White Plains hotel with the undercover agent and a cooperating witness, Mr. Smith noted that one chairman was supporting another mayoral candidate and said, “If you can change him, that would be huge.”
The undercover officer left that meeting with Mr. Smith and joined Mr. Halloran in a restaurant in Queens. The council member, who hails from a family of generations of police officers and firefighters, was perhaps best known for having suggested that city snow plow drivers staged a work slowdown after the blizzard in 2010, deliberately leaving streets unpassable. A grand jury inquiry and a city investigation declared the claims to be unfounded.
For Mr. Smith, he was to act as a middleman between the undercover agent and the Republican chairmen.
On Feb. 8, Mr. Halloran met the cooperating witness and the agent in a Manhattan hotel to report the results of his work: Mr. Savino, the Bronx Republican chairman, wanted $25,000 for his signature, the complaint stated. “In an envelope,” Mr. Halloran suggested. Mr. Savino eventually settled for $15,000, the authorities said.
Mr. Halloran said Mr. Tabone, vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party, wanted $50,000, with half up front before the signature, the complaint said.Mr. Smith met with the agent and the witness two days later at a Manhattan hotel, instructing his bodyguard to wait outside the room. He suggested structuring the payments so they would appear less suspicious.
“I wouldn’t give them more than, like, 10,” Mr. Smith suggested, according to the complaint. “Just to start out.”
Valentine’s Day was a busy one. The agent met separately with Mr. Savino and Mr. Tabone at Sparks on the East Side of Manhattan, presumably amid couples celebrating the day. Both men stepped outside with the agent and accepted envelopes of cash, the complaint stated. Mr. Tabone even paused to frisk the agent for a wire. He failed to find it, and the recording continued without interruption.
But things were not moving quickly enough for Mr. Smith. Apparently frustrated by delays in the signing of the certificates, he argued against paying anyone more with only-in-New-York bluster.
For “even a nickel more,” each man should “stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person you endorsed and hold Malcolm up and say he’s the best thing since sliced bread,” Mr. Smith said, the complaint stated.
“Matter of fact,” he added, “he’s better than sliced bread.”
The scheme was one of three described by the complaint; in another, Mr. Halloran is accused of promising the cooperating witness and the agent “no-show” jobs in return for cash and checks. In all, Mr. Halloran is accused of taking more than $45,000 from the agent and the witness, the complaint stated. He was described as brazenly asking for money from the witness in a text message that read, “Better be 20.”
It was not immediately clear on Tuesday how the investigation began. The witness pleaded guilty to unspecified federal charges in the Southern District of New York on March 11 in a deal with prosecutors for leniency.
In Spring Valley, the witness and the agent, having created the fake development corporation, were proposing building a community center. The mayor, Noramie F. Jasmin, and her assistant, Joseph A. Desmaret, are accused of taking bribes from the sham corporation in return for their support of the project. Mayor Jasmin arranged to be a secret partner in the project, giving the witness, in a meeting in her parking lot, $600 and the name of a relative to be used as a stand-in for her own, according to the complaint.
At one point, Mr. Smith promised to do what he could to get a road improved near the proposed community center, the complaint stated.
All six defendants were arrested before dawn on Tuesday, and all were released on $250,000 bail after their arraignments in United States District Court in White Plains. Dennis King, a lawyer for Mr. Halloran, said that the police confiscated one shotgun from his client’s home this morning, but that he still had a second one.
“I want that surrendered in 24 hours,” Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith said.
Gerald L. Shargel, a lawyer for Mr. Smith, said: “The allegations in this complaint do not tell the whole story. I think there is a lot more to the story.”
It was a starkly more somber day than one described in the complaint, a Sept. 27 meeting in which Mr. Halloran agreed to provide at least $20,000 in Council money to the witness in return for $6,500 for Mr. Halloran’s Congressional campaign that year.
As that meeting drew to a close, the witness raised his glass, and the agent and the councilman did the same.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” the witness said.
Two New York lawmakers and several other state political figures have been indicted for a corruption scheme aimed at rigging New York City’s upcoming race for mayor.
State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, is accused of enlisting the help of New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican, to bribe GOP officials so that Smith could run as their candidate. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, unveiled the indictment.
Preet Bharara: "The charges we unsealed today demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government. At the heart of the allegations is a sitting Democratic senator from Queens, Malcolm Smith, who believed he could, and should, be the mayor of New York City, and who, in the service of that ambition, tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion. Senator Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked it by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receive bribes."
Others charged include, Bronx Republican Party Chairman Jay Savino and Queens Republican Party leader Vincent Tabone, who are accused of accepting a bribe of $40,000.
Bronx GOP chairman Jay Savino and Queens party power broker Vincent Tabone yesterday after appearing in federal court in White Plains
State Senator Malcolm A. Smith arranged payments to get on the ballot of the New York City mayoral race, according to federal prosecutors. Mr. Smith, a Democrat, wanted to run as a Republican, and needed approval from Republican leaders. A criminal complaint detailed transactions that led to the arrests of six officials. Related Article »
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