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Former state Senator Malcolm Smith gets seven years for bribery

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Updated 2:16 p.m.

Former state Senator Malcolm Smith was sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday after trying to bribe his way onto the GOP ballot in the 2013 mayoral election, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.

Smith, 58, was found guilty on all counts in a federal corruption trial in February following only four hours of jury deliberations. An earlier attempt to prosecute Smith ended in June with a mistrial.

Once one of the most powerful elected officials in state government during his brief tenure as Senate president and later a member of the breakaway Independent Democrats, Smith — who represented south Queens — is scheduled to surrender to authorities Sept. 21, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Smith lost his re-election bid in a primary to Leroy Comrie in September 2014.

Federal prosecutors had reportedly asked for up to 10 years in prison for Smith and eight for former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone, who was found guilty on all counts in the same trial as Smith. He was also sentenced Wednesday to 42 months in prison for receiving bribes and witness tampering after being busted as part of the plot to rig the Republican mayoral primary by bribing the party’s leaders in three counties to allow Smith, a Democrat, a place on the GOP ballot.

Then-Queens Councilman Dan Halloran was additionally among several officials arrested by the FBI in April 2013 in the plot. Halloran, who declined to run for re-election the year of his arrest, was found guilty on all five counts against him in July 2014 in a separate trial and later sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

Smith was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, and Tabone, 48, additionally received one year supervised release and ordered to forfeit $25,000. He will need to surrender on Oct. 1.

“Bribes and kickbacks should never play a role in the selection of candidates for public office. By attempting to buy and sell a spot on New York City’s mayoral ballot, Malcolm Smith and Vincent Tabone corrupted one of the most fundamental tenets of the democratic process, that candidates cannot bribe their way onto a ballot,” Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said. “Today’s sentences make clear that the cost of violating the public trust in this way will be measured in years in a federal prison.”

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