Jul 27, 2014
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[UPDATE] Spring Valley Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Bronx GOP Chairman Charged in Corruption Probe

U.S. Attorney: "Corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself."

[UPDATE] Spring Valley Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Bronx GOP Chairman Charged in Corruption Probe [UPDATE] Spring Valley Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Bronx GOP Chairman Charged in Corruption Probe

The Spring Valley mayor and her deputy mayor today face charges in a federal corruption probe, which the U.S. Attorney's Office also says has led to charges against Bronx Republican Party Chairman Jay Savino.

Savino, who has an influential White Plains law firm, was hired by the Town of Clarkstown to handle its property tax litigation matters.

A 28-page complaint unsealed by the U.S. Attorney's Office this morning reveals a corruption investigation that includes state Sen. Malcolm Smith and New York City Council member Dan Halloran. The complaint includes Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, and Savino and Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone.

The charges include bribery, extortion, and wire and mail fraud.

“Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara this morning. "The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself. As alleged, Senator Malcolm Smith tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion – Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes. After the string of public corruption scandals that we have brought to light, many may rightly resign themselves to the sad truth that perhaps the most powerful special interest in politics is self-interest. We will continue pursuing and punishing every corrupt official we find, but the public corruption crisis in New York is more than a prosecutor’s problem.” 

The Rockland County corruption charges, according to federal court papers, involved bribery in connection with a real estate project in Spring Valley.

The New York City corruption charges stem from efforts to get state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, a Democrat, the necessary paperwork to run on the Republican Party line in the New York City mayoral race.

Spring Valley real estate

The federal charges in Spring Valley date back to about August 2011, when Jasmin, a Democrat, is accused in a fraud scheme in which she would voted in favor of the sale of Spring Valley village-owned land to a company in exchange for an ownership interest in the company and to also steer New York State funds to the company for the real estate project.

The charges contend that Desmaret, also a Democrat, received cash payments in exchange for his vote of the land sale and helping to steer state funds to the project. 

The federal complaint filed by the FBI states that a cooperating witness who pleaded guilty on March 11, 2013, provided information in the investigation. The land deal, according to complaint, dates back to a meeting in a Rockland County restaurant, where Jasmin is accused of describing her plan to obtain land through the village's eminent domain authority and then take bids from private developers to develop the property.

Desmaret is accused of meeting with the cooperating witness in a car in January 2012 and sought $20,000. Later, Jasmin met repeatedly with the cooperating witness at a hotel in Ramapo and in a car to work out details of a hidden partnership arrangement.

In Octoter 2012, undercover FBI agents began to take part in meeting posing a straw developers who would make presentations on the real estate development to the Spring Valley Village Board. While meeting with them, according to the federal complaint, Jasmin walked the straw developers through their cover stories on how they got involved with the project.

When the Village Board voted on the project on Oct. 23, 2012, according to the complaint, Jasmin did not disclose her true connection to the project and the developers. In 2013, Jasmin and Desmaret agreed to steer the FBI's witness and the undercover agents to state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith to obtain state funding.

The complaint details more than $10,000 worth of bribes obtained by Desmaret from Feb. 28, 2012 to March 6, 2013, and locations in Ramapo and White Plains. The complaint also details how Jasmin provided the cash and identity information or a relative who does not have the same last name to create a holding company that would be needed to make the illicit land deal happen.

Here are the records from the meeting in which the land deal, which was supposed to be for construction of a community center, was approved:

Mayor’s Report

Ladies and Gentleman, Members of the Community – For the past two years I proposed a Community Center to the Board of Trustees, early this year we drafted a contract to explore the possibilities and opportunity to contract with a potential developer for such proposed Community Center, we the members of the Board of Trustees carefully interviewed four potential developers from local and from the State of New York, as well.  Tonight I am pleased to inform the community and ask the Board of Trustees to embark and exploit the opportunity to enter into an agreement with 2 Holdings, LLC, which is a reputable company who is willing to work with the Village of Spring Valley not only to continue to improve the quality of life for its residents, but also to provide jobs for some local residents.  Not only the Community Center will bring jobs, it will also increase our tax base revenues, the most important thing it will beautify our Main Street.  The proposed Community Center will incorporate a Catering Hall with the Capacity of holding more than 1000 people; in addition, the Village will inherit some office spaces and an archives space to store important documents, plus retail stores, outdoor café, gym, etc.  I am requesting that approval from the Board of Trustees for the Mayor to proceed with this preliminary meeting agreement.

Referral No. 2043 

RESOLUTION NO. 550 OF 2012

APPROVAL FOR THE MAYOR OF THE VILLAGE

OF SPRING VALLEY TO PROCEED WITH A

PRELIMINARY MEETING AGREEMENT WITH 2 HOLDINGS, LLC

VILLAGE OF SPRING VALLEY COMMUNITY CENTER

Deputy Mayor Desmaret offered the following resolution, which was seconded by Trustee Leon and adopted:

WHEREAS, Mayor Noramie F. Jasmin has requested authorization to meeting with 2 Holdings, LLC for a preliminary agreement for the Village of Spring Valley Community Center; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary for the Village of Spring Valley, Board of Trustees to approve the request; now, therefore, it is hereby

RESOLVED, that the Village of Spring Valley Board of Trustees approves the request from Mayor Noramie F. Jasmin for authorization to meeting with 2 Holdings, LLC for a preliminary agreement for the Village of Spring Valley Community Center.

The Roll Call Vote was as Follows:

Ayes:       4 – Mayor Jasmin, Deputy Mayor Desmaret, Trustee Gross, Trustee Delhomme

Abstain:  1 – Trustee Leon

NYC political scheme

While the corruption charges in Spring Valley stunned the community this morning, the major part of this morning's federal announcements involved major players in New York City and New York State Republican and Democratic politics.

State Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, City Council Member Daniel J. Halloran, Queens Republican Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone and Bronx Repbulican Party Chairman and White Plains attorney Jay Savino are accused of a scheme to rig the political process through bribery so Smith could get Republican backing - even though he's a Democrat.

The FBI complaint contends that Smith met with a cooperating witness a an undercover FBI agent posing as a rich real estate developer to bribe leaders of the Republican Party in New York City to obtain cross-endorsement documents, known as Wilson Pakula certificates, which would allow Smith to run for New York City mayor as a Republican even though he is a registered Democrat.

Halloran is accused of arranging meetins with Savino and Tabone and negotiating bribes, including more than $20,000 for himself. Tabone and Savino, according to the FBI, got $40,000 in cash and were promised another $40,000. In return, Savino and Tabone, according to the complaint, would use their official authority in the GOP to obtain the cross endorsement for Smith.

In exchange for the bribes to Savino and Tabone, Smith agreed to help obtain state funds for a road project in Spring Valley that Smith thought would benefit the real estate development company in Spring Valley - which was actually an undercover agent.

The FBI complaint details illicit meetings in Albany, White Plains, Manhattan, Queens and in Rockland County. The complaint shows that bribe payments would be disguised as payments for legal fees and accounting services.

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