By LOUIS FLORES
Former New York City Councilmember Daniel Halloran (R-Queens) was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in prison after he had been found guilty in a federal trial on charges of arranging for bribes of New York City Republican leaders and for accepting bribes to divert City Council slush funds.
Beginning in late 2012 and continuing until early 2013, then Councilmember Halloran arranged bribes on behalf of former State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) in Senator Smith's attempt to secure the Republican Party nomination to run in that year's New York City mayoral election, according to prosecutors. Over a similar period of time, Councilmember Halloran also accepted a bribe in connection with promising to steer $80,000 in City Council slush funds as part of a corruption deal, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors' evidence showed that at one meeting with an undercover agent and with a coöperating witness, Councilmember Halloran said, "That’s politics, that’s politics, it’s all about how much… . You can’t do anything without the fucking money."
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas said, “Public officials need to know they cannot profit from their office in this way,” adding that, "This was a very serious crime...It causes us all to be cynical about our leaders. It causes us to doubt that our leaders are looking after us,” according to a report of the sentencing hearing published by The New York Daily News.
Former Councilmember Halloran's case was investigated and tried by federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's southern district, the office that has been leading a years-long charge to fight corruption from City Hall to Albany.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "When elected officials, like Daniel Halloran, not only corrupt themselves but, unseen, corrupt the body politic from within they undermine the public’s confidence in a representative form of government."
Former Senator Smith and a Queens GOP operative, Vincent Tabone, are scheduled to be sentenced on July 1.
John Bougiamas, a supervisor at the Queens office of the city's Board of Elections, was sanctioned for violating conflicts of interest laws
An supervisor of the the Queens office of the New York City Board of Elections resigned last year after the Commissioners of Elections voted to suspend him following the employee's violation of the city's conflicts of interest law.
In a disposition of the case by the city's Conflicts of Interest Board, the Board accepted the resignation by the employee, John Bougiamas, as "sufficient penalty for the violations" by Mr. Bougiamas.
Mr. Bougiamas admitted that he had hired one of his subordinates at the Board of Elections to do work for one of his two businesses, 360 Consultants, which "provides website design and development and technical support services to private clients," according to the signed Disposition in the case. Mr. Bougiamas also conducted his private business on city time, including his Board of Elections e-mail account for such purposes, including in connection with another of his businesses, Pharos Group, Inc., which "markets data services to political campaigns and related entities," according to the Disposition.
By engaging in such conduct, Mr. Bougiamas violated rules barring an employee to enter into a business relationship with either a superior or a subordinate and for using city resources for non-city purposes.
That an employee of the Board of Elections would be engage in politics-related work during and outside of work is not surprising. Many government reform activists have long complained that politics taints a city agency that should remain impartial to politic influence.
Factions of City Councilmembers battled to replace a commissioner on the Board of Elections after a power struggle waged by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito sought to eject former Board of Elections President Gregory Soumas and, in his stead, install a yes-man. Ultimately, Alan Schulkin was appointed by a majority of the Manhattan delegation of City Councilmembers last August.
The Board of Elections acts as gatekeeper for candidates seeking to run for public office. Currying favour with Board of Elections officials can benefit incumbents, who are driven to seek any advantage in their efforts to thwart challengers in primary election races.
Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-The Bronx) has come a long way for such a young elected official. However, he has more maturing to do, before he can act like the leader that taxpayers and NYCHA tenants expect him to be.