Amsterdam News Staff

Former state Sen. Malcolm Smith wanted to become the mayor of New York City so badly that the Democrat tried to run on the Republican ticket—by any means necessary.

Last week in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., Smith was found guilty of bribery, wire fraud and extortion. Smith was arrested back in April 2013 after authorities learned that he tried to bribe Republican leaders in exchange for their authorization to let him run for New York City mayor on the Republican ticket. That would have put him up against eventual Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota in the primaries.

Vincent Tabone, co-defendant and former executive vice president of the Queens County Republican Party, was also found guilty of wire fraud, bribery and witness tampering. In a statement, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara broke down the scheme and fired a warning shot at other corrupt politicians.

“As the jury unanimously found, the give-and-take of the political process should not be the giving and taking of bribes, which is what Malcolm Smith and Vincent Tabone tried to make it,” said Bharara. “Smith gave, and Tabone took, a $25,000 cash bribe to permit Smith to run for New York City mayor as a Republican.”

Bharara continued “Smith and Tabone were not alone in this scheme. Smith also bribed Daniel Halloran, another Republican Party official, “And sadly, this was just one of many pockets of corruption this office has uncovered in New York, which has become the ‘show me the money’ state. It should not be asking too much to expect public officials at least to obey the law. This office will continue the vigorous prosecution of political corruption until every public official understands that violating the public trust will likely land you in prison.”

Last year, Halloran was found guilty of participating in Smith’s plan.

Bharara’s name has been frequently in the news since last spring. In March 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had just disbanded the Moreland Commission, which was created to investigate corruption in state government. Bharara seized the files from the commission and started to review its closure. Before the dust had settled, Sheldon Silver was arrested for taking up to $4 million in kickbacks and was forced to step down from his position of Assembly speaker.

And Bharara is apparently not done.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, Bharara said “an unfortunate percentage” of Albany politicians are corrupt. He did not, however, go as far as to agree with former Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who Bharara successfully prosecuted, who alleged that at least half of Albany politicians are engaged in corrupt activities.