WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The jury in the trial of state Sen. Malcolm Smith will have to figure out the difference between a bribe and a campaign contribution.
The jury on Monday heard recorded conversations involving the lawmaker, on trial for corruption, and government informant Moses “Mark” Stern, who came up with $27,000 in cash to be delivered to various state senators with the reminder the money was from Smith, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
But the judge explained to the jury that is not a crime; that’s politics.
The heart of the case is the charge that the Democratic state senator bribed then-City Councilman Dan Halloran and two New York City Republican Party leaders to get his name on the GOP ballot line in last year’s mayoral race.
Smith’s attorney says the senator was a victim of entrapment.
Meanwhile on Monday, the jury was being bombarded with taped evidence of multiple bribe schemes, including a conversation featuring Halloran, one of Smith’s co-defendants, who is heard asking for cash, saying: “It doesn’t have to be checks. I can take green.”
Halloran, described by prosecutors as the “quarterback” in Smith’s game plan, was dealing with two men posing as wealthy real estate developers who were dangling thousands of dollars in front of him in return for political favors. The “businessmen” were, however, working for the government — one was an undercover FBI agent, the other was Stern, a convicted con man facing a life sentence in prison.
In one converation, Halloran is heard giving the undercover agent his approval for a scheme that involved outright thievery from the city. The agent testified he made it clear he would keep the money after overbilling the city, and all Halloran cared about, said the witness, was receiving cash to fund his campaign for Congress.
“Whatever I was making on the deal was not his concern,” the agent testified.
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