Major pols surrender to fed prison

By Sadef Ali Kully

Two disgraced southeast Queens politicians, former state Sen. Malcolm Smith and state Assemblyman William Scarborough, began their prison sentences within days for violating the public trust in unrelated high-profile corruption cases.

After his bail-pending appeal was denied by Federal Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains, Smith surrendered Nov. 7 to join 1,785 inmates at a federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa. to begin his 84-month prison sentence on fraud and bribery charges. His inmate register number 68381-054, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Less than a week later, Scarborough surrendered Tuesday afternoon to join 1,488 inmates at Canaan federal penitentiary in Waymart, Pa., to start serving his 13-month sentence on fraud and public corruption scheme. His inmate register number 21628-052, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Smith was sentenced in February after being found guilty of bribery and fraud charges in a four-week jury trial, which involved his attempt to get a spot on the Republican line for the 2013 mayoral race as a then Democratic majority leader in Albany.

Karas, who presided over the political corruption trial that rocked Queens, denied Smith’s second request for an extension on his surrender date until Nov. 30 so he could attend a seminar on how to adjust to prisoner life, according to federal court records.

In the elaborate bribery and fraud scheme that took place from November 2012 through April 2013, Smith, former Queens Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone and former City Councilman Daniel Halloran participated in two overlapping corruption plots that involved a total of $110,000 cash bribes to Republican officials, including Joseph Savino, chairman of the Bronx Republican Party. The goal was to obtain a Wilson-Pakula certificate, a way to let Smith run for office on another party line.

Smith also used his influence to funnel $500,000 in state funds to an undercover FBI agent and a cooperating witness for a real estate project in Spring Valley in exchange for paying cash bribes.

In September, Scarborough was sentenced to 13 months in prison and two years of supervised release, including restitution by Federal Judge Thomas McAvoy in Albany after a state and federal plea agreement in which he admitted submitting 174 fraudulent claims to a travel voucher program and receiving a total of $54,355 in federal funds. He also pleaded guilty to grand larceny for taking over $40,000 campaign funds for personal use.

Assembly members receive per diem payments when they spend time in, and travel to and from, Albany, according to federal documents.

Scarborough also admitted to stealing campaign funds between 2007 and 2014 from the Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign in the form of unauthorized cash withdrawals and transfers from his campaign account for his own personal use. This led his campaign committee to file 21 false reports with the state Board of Elections.

Tabone will surrender to authorities Nov. 19, according to federal court records. Halloran, who represented northeast Queens, began his 10-year prison term in June.

Smith was first elected to the state Senate in 2000 in the district covering Jamaica and surrounding neighborhoods. He served as the Senate’s minority and majority leader and acting lieutenant governor.

Scarborough’s former state Assembly seat for District 29—covering Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton and Rosedale— will now be occupied by Alicia Hyndman, a Democrat, who won the Nov. 3 general election last week.

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

More from Around New York