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State senator, other politicians accused of ‘graft and greed’

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NEW YORK (AP) — A state lawmaker was arrested Tuesday along with several other politicians in what a prosecutor called an “unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed” aimed at enabling the politician to bribe his way into the race for mayor of New York City.

Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith tried to pay off some of New York City’s Republican party bosses to get himself on the ballot as a GOP candidate, federal authorities said.

City Councilman Dan Halloran and four other political figures also were charged in what U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called “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.”

Smith “tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion,” Bharara said in a statement, referring to the official mayor’s residence. “Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes.”

In meetings with a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent posing as a wealthy real estate developer, Smith agreed to bribe leaders of Republican Party county committees around New York City in an attempt to run for mayor as a Republican, even though he was a registered Democrat, a criminal complaint said.

Also charged are Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Savino, Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.

In exchange for payments to Savino and Tabone, Smith agreed to use his power as a senator to help obtain state funds for a road project in Spring Valley, a village of 30,000 residents in Rockland County outside New York City. That, in turn, was to benefit a real estate project that Smith believed was being built by the undercover agent’s company in Spring Valley, the complaint alleged.

Charges in the case include bribery, extortion, and wire and mail fraud, Bharara said.

Smith said in a statement that he’ll be vindicated.

Representatives for the other politicians did not immediately respond to comment requests.

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