Smith, Tabone, deal with problems before prison

By Sadef Ali Kully

Two convicted borough political players—former state Sen. Malcolm Smith and Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone—were approved for an extension on their surrender dates to federal prison on corruption charges, due to health and family issues, according to federal court records.

Smith’s appeals attorney, Marc Fernich, requested a six-week extension on the Sept. 21 surrender date citing a medical check-up and Tabone’s appeals attorney, Eric Nelson, requested a Sept. 28 surrender date for a one-month extension because of child care needs and health issues.

Both requests were approved by Federal Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains.

The case revolved around an attempt to get Smith, a former Democratic majority leader in Albany, a spot on the Republican line in the November 2013 mayoral race.

In the elaborate bribery and fraud scheme that took place from November 2012 through April 2013, Smith, Tabone and former City Councilman Daniel Halloran participated in two overlapping corruption plots that involved the payment of bribes to obtain a Wilson-Pakula certificate, a way to run for office on another party line.

Halloran, who represented northeast Queens, has begun serving a 10-year prison term, following his conviction in a separate trial.

Smith and Tabone were convicted after a four-week jury trial in February. Smith was sentenced to 84 months in prison on bribery and fraud charges, while Tabone was given 42 months for bribery, fraud and witness tampering in federal court.

According to federal court records, a letter from Smith’s nephrologist, Dr. David Faitelli said Smith’s medical insurance company would not accommodate schedule changes less than a year from his last appointment.

“He has a history of prostate cancer, which was treated with surgery, and therefore it is important that he have yearly physicals. Since he has been a patient of mine since 2008, it is important that his physical be done here,” wrote Faitelli, a kidney specialist at ProHealth Care Associates in New Hyde Park.

Tabone, who admitted in court that he was a recovering alcoholic, needed additional time to address a “serious family health and child care issue,” his attorney said in a letter to Judge Karas.

Prosecutors who were assigned to the case did not object to either extension request.

In response to Smith’s request, Judge Karas wrote, “request is granted,” while the response for Tabone’s request was slightly more detailed, “In light of the family health and child care issues mentioned in this letter and in the absence of any objection from counsel, the court grants Mr Tabone’s request,” Karas wrote in the letter filed in court records.

Smith’s surrender date has been rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 6 and Tabone’s has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2, according to federal court records.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.