Former City Councilman Convicted in Mayoral Ballot Bribe Case

A jury took only about 90 minutes Tuesday to convict former city Councilman Daniel Halloran of bribery charges in a scheme to buy a spot on the mayoral ballot for state Sen. Malcolm Smith.

Halloran was also found guilty of taking payoffs from what he thought were developers who wanted him to funnel city money their way. The men were actually an FBI agent and an FBI informant.

The 42-year-old Halloran spent five days on the witness stand in federal court in White Plains. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced Dec. 12.

Halloran, a Queens Republican, admitted taking money but said he earned it for work as a political operative. He said, "It's regrettable this is the way politics works, but it's not illegal."

His attorney, Vinoo Varghese, said in his closing argument that Halloran "never crossed the line" into crime. He said as the trial started, "My client's got a big mouth, I'll admit that. He's a politician."

Prosecutors said Halloran took nearly $45,000 in bribes and illegal campaign donations.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement saying Halloran is "unfortunately not alone in a crowded field of New York officials who are willing to sell out their offices for self-enrichment."

Halloran was accused of scheming with Smith, a Democrat, to bribe county Republican leaders, who would have had to approve Smith's plan to run for the GOP line.

Smith and former Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone, who went on trial with Halloran last month, were granted a mistrial and are expected to be retried in January.

Two other politicians who were arrested with Smith have pleaded guilty: Bronx Republican leader Joseph Savino, who testified for the prosecution against Halloran, and Joseph Desmaret, former deputy mayor of Spring Valley. A sixth defendant, former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, is being tried separately.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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