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Ex-New York assemblyman convicted of federal bribery charges

By Joseph Ax


By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Democratic New York state Senator Malcolm Smith was found guilty on federal bribery charges on Thursday, authorities said, the latest conviction in a string of public corruption prosecutions that have roiled the state capital Albany.

The office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accused Smith, 57, of trying to bribe Republican officials to secure a spot on the 2013 mayoral ballot in the race eventually won by Democrat Bill de Blasio. Smith's first trial on bribery charges ended in a mistrial last year.

Smith's co-defendant, former Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone, 41, was also found guilty of bribery charges on Thursday by the same jury in federal court in White Plains, New York, a spokeswoman for Bharara said.

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The verdicts came two weeks after Bharara's office charged the powerful state assembly speaker, Democrat Sheldon Silver, with allegedly using his office to generate millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks.

"Sadly, this was just one of many pockets of corruption this office has uncovered in New York, which has become the 'show me the money' state," Bharara said in a statement following the verdicts.

A mistrial was declared in Smith's first trial last summer after defense lawyers complained they had not been notified of more than 70 hours of secret recordings made by a key government informant, many in Yiddish.

Smith lost in a primary election last year.

A third defendant, former Republican New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, was convicted last year after his trial went on following the mistrial for Smith and Tabone.

Other public corruption prosecutions from Bharara’s office include those of former state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was sentenced last year to three years in prison for bribery, and former Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to perjury and other crimes and agreed to cooperate in the case against Stevenson.

At least 30 New York politicians have faced either legal or ethics charges since 2000.

(This version of the story corrects fourth paragraph to say Sheldon Silver has been charged, but not indicted, by federal prosecutors)

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham)