State Senator Malcolm Smith, New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and four others charged with trying to rig this year's mayoral race answered to corruption charges Tuesday in White Plains Federal Court. All entered not guilty pleas. Josh Robin has more.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Malcolm Smith walked silently through the gauntlet of cameras. Inside the court, he let his lawyer do the talking. He says Smith's not guilty on corruption charges that could land him in prison for 45 years.
It was the same plea for five others, including Queens Councilman Dan Halloran, who faces the same prison sentence.
Halloran said, "I said it all in the courtroom. Not guilty.”
“Do you think you're gonna beat these charges?” our reporter asked.
“Absolutely. That's why I have a day in court. It’s not trial by press," he replied.
Feds accuse the pair of scheming to get the Democrat Smith on this year's mayoral ballot as a Republican. Also charged are two former GOP leaders, Jay Savino from the Bronx and Vincent Tabone from Queens.
Tabone said, "My name is Vince Tabone and I am innocent. I believe I have my day in court. And I think justice will be done."
Tabone and Savino are accused of taking $40,000 to get Smith on the ballot. Smith allegedly used an undercover FBI agent and a cooperating witness to negotiate and pay the bribes. In turn, Smith allegedly promised to help the witness with a real estate project in the Rockland County village Spring Valley. Its mayor and her deputy are also charged, facing 20 years each, and stunning the village.
"The whole village is sad. Saddened about this whole ordeal. We elected her to really represent the village. And she was the first Haitian-American to be mayor. First woman to be mayor, so it’s a blow to us," said Vilair Fonvil, Spring Valley activist.
Smith also made history when he became Senate Majority Leader in 2009. He was soon after deposed. This year, he joined a breakaway group of Democrats to form a coalition with Republicans. After his arrest, he was stripped of his leadership positions and now sits literally in the corner of the State Senate chamber in Albany.
Off camera, he told a reporter he'll beat the charges. Supporters say he has faith.
Rev. Damon Cabbagestalk Jr. of Joppa Christian Ministries, said, "He would say to his constituents to just pray for him. Pray for him. Keep him in prayer."
It could be months before Smith finds out if his prayers come true.