Caribbean-American Law Makers Charged In Bribery Scheme

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Democratic NYS Senator, Malcolm Smith.
News Americas, WHITE PLAINS, NY, Tues. April 2, 2013: A New York State Senator with Jamaican roots and a Haitian-American mayor, are now facing 20-25 years in jail, after today being slapped with bribery, extortion, and fraud charges.

Democratic NYS Senator, Malcolm Smith, whose district includes the Caribbean immigrant populated areas of Hollis, St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens and parts of Jamaica, and Haitian-American Mayor Of Spring Valley, Noramie Jasmin, were both charged in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme to bribe New York City Republican Party Committee Leaders.

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara and the FBI, say Smith allegedly arranged for cash bribes totaling $40,000 to be paid to Vincent Tabone and Joseph Savino, two New York City Republican county leaders, as part of an effort to appear on the Republican primary ballot as a mayoral candidate in the 2013 election.

Senator Malcolm Smith, speaking at Senator John Sampson's, Spirit of Essence Awards, at the El Caribe, in Brooklyn, NY in 2008. (Hayden Roger Celestin image)
Smith was charged along with Jasmin; New York City Council Member Daniel Halloran; Joseph Desmaret, the deputy Haitian American mayor of the Village of Spring Valley in Rockland County; Vincent Tabone and Joseph Savino.

All six defendants were arrested On tuesday, April 2, 2013, and appeared in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith. They were released on $250,000 bail each and will return to federal court in White Plains on April 23rd.

Halloran is alleged to have received approximately $20,500 in cash bribes to act as an intermediary with Tabone and Savino on Smith’s behalf. In the second scheme, Halloran allegedly received approximately $18,300 in cash bribes and $6,500 in straw donor campaign contribution checks in exchange for agreeing to steer up to $80,000 of New York City Council discretionary funding to a company he believed was controlled by those who paid him the bribes.

The final scheme involved Jasmin and Desmaret, the mayor and deputy mayor of the Village of Spring Valley in Rockland County, and their alleged receipt of financial benefits, including Jasmin’s receipt of a hidden interest in a real estate project and Desmaret’s receipt of approximately $10,500 in cash bribes, in exchange for official acts.

On Feb. 10, Smith met with the undercover agent and the cooperating witness and discussed how to structure the payments to Savino and Tabone, the complaint says.

“I wouldn’t give them more than, like, 10,” Smith suggested. “Just to start out.”

The charges against the defendants arise from an undercover investigation of three distinct but related bribery schemes involving public corruption.

“Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself. We will continue pursuing and punishing every corrupt official we find, but the public corruption crisis in New York is more than a prosecutor’s problem.”

Under New York State law, a person seeking to run for a citywide position in New York City may not have his or her name listed as a candidate on the ballot if he or she is not a registered member of the party having the primary contest unless he or she receives the approval of at least three of the five chairmen of the county committees for that party. The approval is given in the form of what are known as Wilson Pakula certificates, which are signed by the approving chairmen.

Senator Malcolm Smith, 2nd from r. at Senator John Sampson's, r.,, Spirit of Essence Awards, at the El Caribe, in Brooklyn, NY, 10-11-08. NYS Senator Kevin Parker is at l. (Photo: Hayden Roger Celestin)
Smith, a Democrat, was first elected to the New York State Senate in March 2000 and represents the 14th Senatorial District in Queens, New York. He is chairman of the Independent Democratic Conference of the State Senate and, among other positions, has served as the State Senate’s minority and majority leader. Smith has spoken publicly about his desire to run for mayor of New York City in 2013.

Jasmin, previously a trustee and deputy mayor of Spring valley, was sworn in as mayor on Monday December 7, 2009. She is the first woman to hold the title of “Mayor of Spring Valley NY” since the incorporation of the village in 1902 and is the first Haitian American woman to hold the post.

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