Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

State Senator (And Charter School Founder) Malcolm Smith Arrested For Trying To Rig NYC Mayoral Election

Big news in the mayoral race this morning:

State Sen. Malcolm Smith and city Councilman Dan Halloran were arrested this morning on charges they were plotting to rig this year’s mayoral election through fraud and bribes.

The pols allegedly formed an alliance built on cash payments and fraud to get Smith — one of the state’s top Democrats — placed on the GOP mayoral ballot, sources said.

FBI agents arrested them both at their Queens homes shortly after 6 a.m.


As agents took Smith and Halloran into custody, the feds raided the homes of Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino and Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone, who were arrested on charges of wire fraud and bribery. They allegedly agreed to take bribes to get Smith on the ballot.

Also hauled in this morning were Noramie Jasmin, the mayor of Spring Valley in Rockland County, and her deputy mayor, Joseph Desmaret.

All six are going to appear in White Plains federal court today.

At Smith’s home, two FBI agents led the grim-faced senator – in a business suit -- from a back door to an unmarked car.

Three FBI agents spent more than 30 minutes inside the home before arresting the powerful pol. A woman inside the home refused to open the door for a reporter.

After the agents took off, a Smith neighbor said "I'm glad he's arrested."

Love it - even the neighbor is glad Malcolm Smith is being carted in handcuffs.

Usually when the FBI and the police come for these guys, the neighbors are like "I can't believe this is happening!  He's such a nice guy!"

Not Malcolm Smith's neighbor - he's happy about the arrest.

And what was the plot Smith and Halloran had cooked up?

Smith was trying to buy off Republican leaders because he needed the party’s support in at least three boroughs in order to run as a GOP candidate without even changing his own party affiliation, the sources said.

“It’s incredible,” a source said of the alleged plot.

To get on the GOP ballot, Smith allegedly enlisted Halloran, a Republican, to set up meetings with party leaders and negotiate thousands of dollars in bribes. The money was masked as payments for legal and accounting services, sources said.

Halloran allegedly collected thousands in bribes for himself along the way, the sources said.

He is separately charged with taking bribes from a consultant in return for up to $80,000 in City Council discretionary funding.

The feds were already investigating Halloran when they got wind of the alleged ballot-manipulating plan in November, the sources said. Smith met with his alleged co-conspirators as recently as February.

FBI spokesman Martin Feely, reached late last night, declined to comment.

Noramie Jasmin, the mayor of Spring Valley in Rockland County, and her deputy mayor, Joseph Desmaret, are also expected to be taken into custody today as part of the probe — although it was unclear how it relates to Smith.

The Rockland pair is accused of taking bribes in return for approving the sale of village land to a private concern. In addition to cash bribes, Jasmin is accused by the feds of demanding a secret ownership stake in the company that bought the property from her community.

 Smith, of course is one of the scummiest pols in NYC:

Smith is facing heat for his ties to a shady Queens nonprofit, the New Direction Local Development Corp., which The Post found misused charitable funds intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Smith, representing much of southeastern Queens, was also involved in an embarrassing Aqueduct casino bid-rigging scandal, which remains under investigation by the FBI.

Never missing a chance to make headlines, Smith last year stunned the state’s political establishment by joining forces with Republicans to form a first-of-its-kind coalition to run the fractured state Senate.

By joining the Independent Democratic Caucus — along with four other Democratic renegades — Smith allowed the state Republican Party to keep control of the Legislature’s upper house.

Smith also once served as the majority leader of the state Senate, after Democrats captured control of the chamber in 2008.

Chaos reigned during Smith’s tenure and, by June 2009, two members of his conference had joined with GOP senators to oust Smith and trigger another crisis at the Capitol.

His brief period of leadership was considered a flop, and his Democratic Party subsequently lost control of the chamber to the Republicans.

 Let's not forget the charter school scandal Smith was involved in a few years ago:

School officials don't believe Senate President Malcolm Smith's claim that a charter school he founded was forced out of a public school into fenced-in trailers that resemble a prison.

"There was no reason to move to those cages," said Claude Monereau, principal of Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway, the building that housed Smith's charter school, Peninsula Preparatory Academy.

Monereau's comments follow a Sunday Daily News report that revealed Peninsula moved out of MS 53 into trailers on property being developed by one of Smith's top campaign donors. The developer uses the school as a selling point to hawk his houses.

Confronted by reporters, Smith claimed the developers' needs had nothing to do with the move. Instead, he said Peninsula asked MS 53 for more space due to expanding enrollment, and that MS 53 and the Department of Education turned them down.

DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said the school never requested to expand, and Monereau said there was no reason to move. Monereau said MS 53 had plenty of room when Peninsula moved out in 2008.

"Smith claimed the school moved because there was not enough space. That's baloney," Monereau said. "I don't know what they're talking about. Before they left, we walked through the building in June. We thought that they were going to stay."

"There must have been something cooking. How are you going to leave a school and put those children in those cages?"

Of course there was something cooking - money from Malcolm Smith's campaign donor going to Malcolm Smith for moving the school to his development to use as a selling point.

State Senate President Malcolm Smith steered $100,000 in state funds to a Queens charter school he helped found, the Daily News has learned.

The money was earmarked this budget year for educational programs at Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Far Rockaway.

Smith was a founder of the school, which was chartered in 2004, and an original board member. His spokesman said he divested ties to the school when he became Senate minority leader in November 2006.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), a close ally of Smith's, is still listed as a board member.

In 2006 and 2007, Smith received a total of $12,000 in campaign donations from Steven Klinsky, who founded the school's management company, Victory Schools Inc.

Victory has been the school's management company since 2004, according to a company official. The charter school's latest tax documents show it paid $762,322 in management fees.

While there does not appear to be anything illegal about Smith's steering tax money to the school from local assistance funds that he controls, the move raised some eyebrows.

"I don't know if it's inappropriate under the law, but it points to the influence the charter school association has on the crafting of legislation as a real special interest," said Richard Ianuzzi, president of the powerful state teachers' union.

Peninsula Preparatory Charter School was slated for closure by the DOE, but parents sued to keep it open and won that battle.

It is still taking students for the 2013-2014 school year.
But it's founder, Malcolm Smith, is facing trial on bribery and fraud charges.

I'll have more later on this, but I wanted to make the connection between Smith's arrest today and his shady charter school doings in the past.

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