By Sadef Kully
Disgraced former state Sen. Malcolm Smith surrendered to a Philadelphia prison to begin his 84-month sentence this weekend after his second request to extend his surrender date was denied by a federal judge in White Plains.
Smith was sentenced in February after being found guilty of bribery and fraud charges in a four-week jury trial involving his attempt to get himself, a former Democratic majority leader in Albany, a spot on the Republican line for the 2013 mayoral race.
Smith drew a sentence of nearly seven years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, who presided over the political corruption trial that rocked Queens, denied Smith’s second request for an extension on his surrender date, according to federal court records. His first request was due to medical reasons because Smith is a prostate cancer survivor, and his second request was to extend the surrender date to Nov. 30 so that he would be able to spend Thanksgiving with his family and also attend a seminar.
His second request was countered by federal prosecutors in an opposition letter, according to court records. Prosecutors said his delay was part of a legal tactic for his bail-pending appeal.
Smith, who is pursuing an appeal on his conviction, was denied the extension. Karas said the seminar was not a sufficient reason to delay the surrender date.
Smith, 59, surrendered Saturday to the U.S. penitentiary in Lewisburg, a high-security federal prison, in Philadelphia. The prison facility houses a total of 1,785 inmates. He will be registered under the prison number 68381-054.
In the elaborate bribery and fraud scheme that took place from November 2012 through April 2013, Smith, former Queens Republican Party Vice Chairman Vince 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 was first elected to the state Senate in November 2000 in the district covering Jamaica and surrounding neighborhoods. He served as the Senate’s minority and majority leader and acting lieutenant governor.
He authorized the payment of $110,000 in cash bribes for Queens Republican Party leaders, including Tabone, to allow him to run for mayor on the Republican ticket, according to testimony at his trial. Smith also agreed to use his influence to help steer almost $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 bribes on his behalf.
During the scheme, Joseph Savino, the chairman of the Bronx Republican Party, and other party leaders met with an undercover agent to accept the cash bribes.
Tabone accepted a $25,000 bribe in a dimly lit SUV parked in front of a Manhattan restaurant and agreed to accept another $25,000 after his committee authorized Smith to compete in the Republican primary. testimony at his trial revealed. Savino similarly accepted a $15,000 cash bribe and agreed to accept another $15,000 after he voted to authorize Smith to compete for the Republican ticket, according to prosecutors. In return for his efforts in negotiating the bribes, Halloran accepted $15,500 as a down payment and expected to be appointed first deputy mayor if Smith was elected mayor.
Additionally, Tabone was convicted of witness tampering when he attempted to persuade then Queens County Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa not to testify against him.
Tabone also had his bail-pending appeal denied by Karas, according to federal court records.