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Prosecutor In Corruption Trial: State Sen. Malcolm Smith Betrayed Constituents

Sen. Malcolm A. Smith on March 12, 2008  in Albany, New York. (Credit: Getty Images)

Sen. Malcolm A. Smith on March 12, 2008 in Albany, New York. (Credit: Getty Images)

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York state Sen. Malcolm Smith betrayed the people who elected him by trying to bribe his way into New York City’s mayoral ballot, a federal prosecutor charged Wednesday.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, prosecutor Douglas Bloom made the remarks during opening arguments in the corruption trial of Smith and two co-defendants at federal court in White Plains.

Bloom said Smith, a Democrat, offered bribes to Republican party leaders for permission to run on the GOP line, which the senator believed gave him a better shot at City Hall. Bloom said Smith paid more than $100,000 in cash bribes to men who were willing and ready to be bought.

The prosecutor said undercover recordings will reveal the specific amounts and wording of the bribes.

Smith’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, insisted the recordings will show that Smith, who is seeking re-election, never paid or accepted even $1.

Shargel said Smith was a victim of entrapment. The government’s chief informant, Moses “Mark” Stern portrayed himself as a rabbi and businessman with deep pockets offering to finance Smith’s campaign, Shargel said. In reality, Stern was a con man who was facing 455 years in prison and set out to create a showstopper of a case against the senator to cooperate with the government and save himself.

The defense said Smith plans to testify.

Earlier Wednesday, Shargel asked Judge Kenneth Karas to start the jury selection over again after a number of problems plagued the process, but the request was denied.

Jurors were questioned individually about whether they had heard about a conflict of interest involving one juror whose father-in-law knew some of the defendants in the case, Cornell reported. That juror was dismissed.

the jury selection over again Wednesday after a number of problems plagued the process, but the request was ultimately denied.

Six of the jurors said they had heard about the incident. One also mentioned that there was a copy of the New York Daily News in the jury room at federal court in White Plains — jurors aren’t supposed to read about the case.

A juror who picked up the paper said he read only about the Rangers hockey team.

Former New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and Vincent Tabone, who was vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party, are Smith’s co-defendants in the trial.

Halloran is accused of helping to arrange and negotiate the bribes. Prosecutors say Tabone accepted a bribe.

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