By Phil Corso
State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) pleaded not guilty in federal court in White Plains Tuesday to charges that they orchestrated an elaborate scheme to rig the upcoming mayoral election.
Four others who were also indicted in the corruption case entered not guilty pleas, professing their innocence as they left court.
The indictment was handed up by a grand jury last Thursday and charged the two elected officials, along with former Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vince Tabone, with bribery and corruption in a bid to get Smith onto the Republican ballot in the mayoral race for City Hall.
If convicted on charges of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud, the two lawmakers face up to 45 years in prison. Tabone faces a maximum of 25 years.
A pre trial conference was scheduled for later Tuesday afternoon after the case was assigned to Judge Kenneth Karas.
Inside the courtroom, Smith and Halloran, both dressed in black suits, sat quietly as they leaned over paperwork with their attorneys.
After the proceeding, Halloran darted out of the courthouse and said “I’m innocent.” As he was leaving, Tabone said “I’ll have my day in court.”
Smith remained inside the courthouse.
Also named in the indictment were former Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.