WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.-- A Democratic state lawmaker was formally indicted Thursday for plotting to bribe his way onto this year’s New York City mayoral ballot -- as a Republican.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith and five other politicians are named in the indictment, which echoes a criminal complaint issued April 2.
The indictment, from a grand jury in White Plains, alleges Smith schemed with New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran to bribe Republican party leaders. It says two party leaders, Joseph Savino and Vincent Tabone, accepted tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for agreeing to help.
Smith never formally began a mayoral campaign. Authorities said he would have needed permission from three of the city’s five Republican Party county chairmen to run on the GOP ticket.
Smith’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, said Thursday, "We’re going to enter a plea of not guilty. The charges are ill-founded and we look forward to a time when Senator Smith can put this behind him."
In another bribery scheme tangential to the Smith case, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret were accused of taking money and property to approve a real estate project.
Calls to defense lawyers were not immediately returned.
Halloran’s lawyer, Dennis Ring, has previously denied the accusations, as has Jasmin.
Based on the complaint and indictment, much of the evidence was gathered by a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent.
Smith has been in office since 2000 and has been both majority and minority leader of the state Senate. After his arrest, he was kicked out of the small group of Democratic senators who share majority control of the Senate with Republicans.
When the complaint was issued, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Smith "tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion. ... Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes."
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 48 percent of New Yorkers see corruption as "very serious," the highest share since the poll began asking the question in 2003.
Arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.