BY JORDAN GIBBONS
After a litany of delays, the jury in the Malcolm Smith trial found the former State Senator guilty on all charges. Former Queens Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone was also found guilty on all counts.
The jurors returned the verdict after four hours of deliberations on Thursday.
Smith was accused of trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for the 2013 mayoral race. Smith’s charges include conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion charges for plotting to payoff GOP county chairmen.
Smith was arrested, along with Tabone and former Councilman Dan Halloran, in April 2013 and the trial of the former two defendants was postponed last summer due to untranslated Yiddish recordings that needed to be sifted through.
Smith gave both Tabone and Halloran a $25,000 bribe to permit Smith to run for mayor.
Halloran was found guilty during the summer, while Smith and Tabone returned to the Federal district court in White Plains on Jan. 5. The trial lasted four weeks and included hours of undercover video and audio recordings.
The 12-person jury began deliberations last Friday, but several jurors were unable to participate, which postponed their decision.
On Monday, two jurors were snowed in and on Tuesday, the foreman of the jury was hospitalized due to flu-like symptoms.
Lawyers involved in the case held a conference call on Tuesday to determine the status of the foreman and both Smith and co-defendant Vincent Tabone, former executive vice president of the Queens County Republican Party, waived their right to be present.
Smith’s defense attorney Gerald Shargel tried to interrupt the jury’s deliberations on Friday after a dismissed juror did interviews with the New York Post and News 12, in which she said she believed the defendants were guilty on all counts.
Judge Kenneth Karas ruled for the government and denied Shargel’s attempt to delay the decision any further.
Based on the charges, Smith could face up to 45 years in prison, while Tabone faces up to a 25-year jail sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that this was just one of the many pockets of corruption his office has uncovered in New York and it will continue to vigorously prosecute political corruption until every public official understands it will land them in prison.
“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,” Bharara said. “It should not be asking too much to expect public officials at least to obey the law.”
State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-Hollis), who defeated Smith for his seat in the 14th Senate District last year released a statement Thursday on the jury’s decision.
“My prayers are with the Smith family as they deal with this ordeal and I am saddened by this turn of events,” he said. “Public corruption is unacceptable and our community demands more accountability and transparency.”
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.