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Senator Smith and NYC councilman arraigned in alleged plot to rig mayoral election

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Rochester: Senator Smith and NYC councilman arraigned in alleged plot to rig mayoral election
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Two New York City lawmakers, State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran were arraigned Tuesday in connection to an alleged attempt to rig the upcoming race for mayor. In addition to Smith, a Democrat, and Halloran, a Republican, several other people connected to the federal probe appeared before a judge in White Plains. Grace Rauh has more on the investigation and the lawmaker's day in court.

NEW YORK -- State Senator Malcolm Smith's long shot mayoral bid seems to be coming to an abrupt end. Federal prosecutors say Smith, a Democrat, teamed up with Republican City Councilman Dan Halloran to bribe Republican party officials to get Smith on the ballot as a Republican.

“At the heart of the allegations is a sitting Democratic Senator from Queens, Malcolm Smith, who believed he could, and should, be the Mayor of New York City. And who, in the service of that ambition, tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

“The allegations do not tell the full story. Withhold judgment. Not guilty,” said Gerald Shargel, attorney for Smith.

Two top Republican Party leaders are accused of accepting $40,000 in bribes. The chairman of the Bronx Republican Party, Jay Savino, and a top official in the Queens Republican Party, Vincent Tabone, allegedly took the cash in exchange for promising to work to get Smith on the Republican Party ballot line in the race for mayor.

Prosecutors say Halloran also lined his own pockets with more than $20,000 for his role in the scheme. He allegedly arranged meetings with party leaders and negotiated the bribes they would be paid for their support. The complaint says Halloran expected to be rewarded with a deputy police commissioner job in a Malcolm Smith administration as well.

Halloran’s attorney said, “He denies all wrongdoing and looks forward to clearing his name.”

Smith's interest in the mayor's race was thought to have diminished, but the complaint says that as recently as late March, he was moving ahead with his plans. But he was apparently wary of giving the party leaders more money.

“Senator Smith talks a lot about who is able to be bought and for how much and on what terms and on what timetable,” Bharara said.

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