Judge calls mistrial for Smith, Tabone, but Halloran case to proceed

By Sarina Trangle

A federal judge declared a mistrial in the corruption case of state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and former Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone Tuesday, which pushed scheduled proceedings past the southeast Queens legislator’s upcoming election, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

But Judge Kenneth Karas opted to have the third co-defendant, former Bayside Councilman Dan Halloran, continue on trial when it resumes in White Plains federal court June 25 after his attorney argued the Republican was on the brink of bankruptcy, court filings show.

Smith is charged with allegedly scheming to bribe his way onto the Republican line for the 2013 mayoral elections, in part, by allegedly steering $500,000 in state funding to a pseudo real estate project in exchange for its recipients agreeing to pony up his suspected bribes.

Halloran is accused of helping broker Smith’s deals with Republican leaders while accepting kickbacks, prosecutors said.

And Tabone allegedly took a $25,000 bribe to help Smith gain the GOP line.

The judge’s decision concluded days of attorneys arguing over the timing involving prosecutors handing over roughly 65 hours of conversation and 1,900 text messages in English and Yiddish from a wiretap on a cooperating witness’s phone, court documents show.

Defense attorneys contended the recordings of government witness Moses Stern, a Rockland County developer who pleaded guilty to unspecified charges, may bolster entrapment defenses and they needed time to translate and analyze the material.

Deborah Misir, one of Tabone’s attorneys, noted in a letter to Karas that their opening statements and defense theory would have been different if the lawyers had had prior access to the material.

Prosecutors claimed they submitted 20 hours of recorded conversation and 1,261 text messages they thought pertained to the case, but that the remaining wiretap content was unrelated. Court filings show they also argued defense attorneys were aware that not all of the wiretap had been submitted in the case and only raised objections mid-trial.

Herb Hadad, a spokesman for the prosecutors, said Tabone and Smith’s new trial is set to open Jan. 5. Smith is currently up for re-election on Nov. 4.

Halloran’s trial is slated to resume June 25, according to Hadad.

Court documents show the former Bayside councilman did not want a mistrial because it would come with incurred costs.

“The government arrested Mr. Halloran on April 2, 2013 and during the 13 months that followed Mr. Halloran has spent all of his time and resources on the defense of the case. The indictment has prevented Mr. Halloran from obtaining any meaningful employment,” a filing from his attorney read.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at [email protected].