BY JORDAN GIBBONS
The federal corruption trial of former State Sen. Malcolm Smith is underway in White Plains.
In its second week, jurors reviewed the video and audio recordings of conversations Smith and his co-defendant, former Queens County Republican leader Vincent Tabone, had with an undercover F.B.I. agent, known as “Raj.”
Both men are facing decades in prison for allegedly seeking to bribe Republican officials to secure a nomination for Smith on the party’s ticket for mayor in 2013.
The jury watched a video of a dinner at Sparks Steak House in Midtown Manhattan in 2013 and heard recordings from hidden cameras at the table in the F.B.I. operative’s vehicle.
Raj was pretending to be a real-estate developer with an economic interest in having Smith become the Republican nominee for mayor. Smith needed to obtain a Wilson-Pakula authorization from at least three of five of the City’s Republican county chairmen.
Former Bronx Republican chairman Joseph Savino accepted an envelope from Raj with $15,000 in cash and Raj promised another $15,000 when Smith got on the ballot. Raj tried to do the same scheme with former New York County Republican chairman Daniel Isaacs. Isaacs declined the deal. The jury also watched Tabone accept $25,000 later on during the dinner.
Smith’s defense attorneys cross-examined Raj attempting to shape their client as a victim of entrapment. Famous criminal defense lawyer Gerald Shargel pushed Raj to admit that the former Senate majority leader never accepted cash.
On Wednesday, State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Spring Valley) testified in the trial that Smith encouraged him to meet with real estate investor Mark Stern, who is currently cooperating with the F.B.I.
Savino also took the stand and tracked his path from private practice and a county Republican office to a guilty plea in his bribery case and turning into a government witness. He is now working at his parent’s restaurant in Rockland County.
Prosecutors are expected to call Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Pearl River), Isaacs, former Suffolk County executive Steve Levy and the widow of former Queens County Republican chair Phil Ragusa as the trial is expected to continue into next week.
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.