Former State Senator Malcolm Smith, GOP operative Vincent Tabone sentenced to prison

By LOUIS FLORES

Former New York State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and former Queens County Committee of the Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone were sentenced to prison on Wednesday.

Former State Senator Smith was sentenced to seven years in prison for attempting to bribe his way onto the 2013 New York City GOP mayoral ballot, amongst other crimes, and Mr. Tabone was sentenced to almost four years in prison for accepting bribes and related crimes to the mayoral ballot scheme.

The sentencing of both men was decided by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, who oversaw the trial for both men, according to a statement issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the nation's top federal prosecutor for New York's southern district.

“Bribes and kickbacks should never play a role in the selection of candidates for public office.  By attempting to buy and sell a spot on New York City’s Mayoral ballot, Malcolm Smith and Vincent Tabone corrupted one of the most fundamental tenets of the democratic process, that candidates cannot bribe their way onto a ballot," U.S. Attorney Bharara said, in part, in the statement.

Former State Senator Smith's sentencing included crimes associated with a corrupt real estate deal in Spring Valley, New York, and he faces two years of supervised release once his prison term ends.  He was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on September 15.  

Mr. Tabone's sentencing included crimes associated with witness tampering, and he faces one year of supervised release once his prison terms ends.  Additionally, Mr. Tabone was ordered to forfeit $25,000 in ill-gotten gains.  He was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on October 1.

Another accomplice in the 2013 mayoral ballot scheme, former Councilmember Daniel Halloran (D-Whitestone), was found guilty in a previous federal trial.  Former Councilmember Halloran was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Karas in March of this year to 10 years in prison for the crimes for which he was found guilty.  Former Councilmember Halloran also faces two years of supervised release once his prison term ends, and he was ordered to forfeit $45,300 in ill-gotten gains, according to a separate statement issued at the time of his sentencing by the U.S. Attorney's Office.  Former Councilmember Halloran surrendered to the Bureau of Prisons on June 8.

The spree of political and campaign corruption from New York City to Albany have generally been ignored by the offices of the city's district attorneys and the state attorney general.  Instead, U.S. Attorney Bharara has taken the lead on investigating and prosecuting cases of political and campaign corruption.  As reported by Progress Queens, the campaign committees of the city's district attorneys and the state attorney general are advised by some of the same political campaign consultants that also advise other elected officials, creating a possible conflict of interest for municipal and state prosecutors, because municipal and state prosecutors run for office with the consent of the county committees of the two major political parties.  These county committees also have a say in who runs for other elected offices, as demonstrated in the case against former State Senator Smith, meaning that municipal and state prosecutors rarely, if at all, confront the party leaders, who support the campaign committees of these same municipal and state prosecutors, leaving federal prosecutors the only investigators independent of the party election system to probe elected officials and county committee leaders.