A former Bronx GOP chairman pleaded guilty to charges accusing him of playing a part in a bribery scandal allegedly involving two lawmakers from Queens.
Court papers showed Joseph Savino admitted last week to pocketing $15,000 in bribes back in February in a scheme to put Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) on the ballot in the mayoral race as a Republican — which required a seal of approval from at least three of the city’s five GOP chairmen. The charges also alleged City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) helped arrange the meetings and solicit bribes in the scandal.
Savino pleaded guilty in White Plains federal court Nov. 12 to three corruption charges that included allegations of bribery and wire fraud, which carried a maximum prison term of 30 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 25, court records said.
Savino’s lawyer, Joseph Robert Conway, did not comment.
In the court records, Savino admitted to meeting with Halloran and others — including an undercover FBI agent — several times between November 2012 and April 2013 to discuss the details of the scheme, from which the former Bronx GOP chairman agreed to accept $30,000 in bribes.
He was given $15,000 up front, court records showed, and must now return that money in full as a result of his guilty plea. Records also showed Savino was ordered to file accurate amended tax returns from 2005-12 and could face criminal tax prosecution if he fails to do so.
Both Halloran and Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges soon after they were arrested April 2. They face up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
Halloran and Smith declined to comment on Savino’s guilty plea.
Charged along with Savino and the two borough legislators were former Queens Republican Chairman Vincent Tabone, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret — all of whom also pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Both Savino and Tabone stepped down from their county leadership positions soon after the scandal made headlines. Halloran also chose not to seek re-election as a result of the charges so he could instead focus on restoring his reputation.
Halloran’s northeast 19th Council District seat later went to Democrat Paul Vallone, who won the general election earlier this month and will assume the role of councilman in January.
Smith, however, remained in his position as a senator in his southern Queens district.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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