Several Rockland County and New York City-based lawmakers were arrested by federal authorities on corruption charges today.
Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin (D) and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret (D) were among those arrested. The Spring Valley pair are being hit with charges for allegedly taking bribes on sales of village property and asking for a stake in a company as conditions in a deal.
Bronx GOP Chairman Jay Savino, who happens to live primarily in Congers and is Clarkstown’s tax certiorari attorney, was arrested for allegedly selling the mayoral ballot line in New York City to Senator Malcolm Smith of the Independent Democratic Caucus, also arrested.
New York City mayoral scandal, which had officials colluding to make the Democrat Smith the GOP nominee in exchange for cash, also led to the arrest of Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens) and Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone.
All the arrests are results from the same investigation, however it is not clear what the link between Jasmin and the NYC scandal is. The arrests making the largest national headlines are Smith, Halloran and Savino’s. The spector of Republicans fixing a line to get a prominent Democrat to run made top billing on the Drudge Report and other prominent sites.
As a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, Smith helps his small cohort of Democrats control the Senate along with the GOP. If the Senate was divided strictly along party lines, the Democrats would have the majority. Local Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Ossining) is a member of the conference.
Manhattan District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said of the arrests, “Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government. 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.
“As alleged, Senator Malcolm Smith tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion – Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes. After the string of public corruption scandals that we have brought to light, many may rightly resign themselves to the sad truth that perhaps the most powerful special interest in politics is self-interest. 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.”
Mayor Jasmin has received criticism in the past for repeatedly raising her own salary and giving herself and her board other perks. One of her first actions upon taking office in 2010 was to use taxpayer money to purchase for her position a luxury SUV with all accessories valued at close to $60,000. The previous mayor’s vehicle was around $20,000 in value.
Jasmin had been running for reelection this year against Ramapo Councilman Daniel Friedman (D) and others.
Savino has been the subject of reportage by the Rockland County Times as his appointment to the Clarkstown position appeared to be an inside “political patronage” deal at the time. Four of five Clarkstown board members voted for him, with only Stephanie Hausner (D) objecting.
He has since been relieved of his duties, the board announced yesterday. Savino also has been one of the top election-law attorneys in the area, handling dozens of cases for local politicos in Rockland, Westchester and the Bronx.
According to a 28-page complaint text released to the public, key to the case were two undercover informants, one which federal authorities describe as being “a man posing as a wealthy real estate developer” and another known only as a “confidential witness.”
Through these two witnesses and wiretaps, the federal authorities describe various dramatic situations in which large sums of cash were traded by for political favors.
Newspaper identified the confidential information as Morris Stern of Monsey. Stern also goes by the name of Mark and Moshe.
Stern had pled guilty in March in a famous case highlighted in 2010 in Forbes magazine involving a failed $126 million loan. He is also reputed to be a campaign finance “bundler” that has helped the campaigns of many politicians. The Rockland County Times is researching his background and connections further. He is 40-years-old.
In perhaps the most dramatic scene a Councilman Halloran unaware he was being recorded explained the meaning of money and politics as such, “That’s politics, that’s politics, it’s all about how much. Not about whether or will, it’s about how much, and that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that, all like that.
“And they get like that because of the drive that the money does for everything else. You can’t do anything without the f**king money. Money is what greases the wheels — good, bad or indifferent.”
To read the 28 page complaint document follow this link: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April13/SmithetalStatement/Smith,%20Malcolm%20et%20al.%20Complaint%20(Signed).pdf