Dan Halloran was sentenced to prison for his part in an effort to get State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, on the Republican line in the 2013 race for mayor by using an obscure provision known as a Wilson Pakula certificate.
If Queens County GOP leaders would have signed off on it, they would officially nominate Smith as their choice to run for mayor, despite the fact that he would still technically be a registered Democrat.
If Smith were able to get three of the five county leaders in New York City to back him, he would get the citywide Republican line for mayor.
We guess Smith was inspired by Michael Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat who ran as a Republican for mayor and served 12 years, including a third term he was able to finagle out of the City Council through legislation that allowed for a one-time extension on term limits.
If it worked for him, why not Smith? Well, lots of reasons, but let’s just focus on one.
Even if the whole operation had been on the up and up, it would have still been a long shot. The Queens County GOP is divided into two bitter factions, which makes it almost impossible for party leadership to come to a consensus on anything.
It was highly unlikely that they would ever agree to back Smith and sign off on the Wilson Pakula, which makes the whole bribery scheme even more bizarre. Let’s recap.
To win the support of Republican county leaders, Smith enlisted the help of Halloran, who at the time represented northeast Queens, to set up meetings with county leaders, as well as negotiate tens of thousands of dollars worth of bribes masked as consulting and legal fees.
In a meeting on November 16, 2012, with a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent posing as a wealthy real estate developer, Halloran agreed to set up meeting with GOP leaders in Queens and the Bronx. He also negotiated $20,500 in cash for himself, as well as a promise to be appointed deputy police commissioner in a future Smith administration.
Also arrested in the sweep was Vince Tabone, then-vice chairman of the Queens County Republican Party.
Incidentally, the Queens GOP eventually backed John Catsimatidis for mayor that year. At the time, Tabone was working on the Catsimatidis campaign and for the billionaire’s company, all while he was taking bribes to try and get Smith on the ballot.
According to the indictment, Tabone met with the witness and agent on February 14 at a restaurant in Manhattan and accepted $25,000 in cash.
On March 21, the agent and witness met with Smith in his Albany office, where he ordered them not to give either Tabone or Bronx Republican Party chairman Joseph Savino, who was also paid $25,000 and also arrested, any more money until they signed the Wilson Pakula certificates.
Tabone may have received up to $40,000 total, and was promised $40,000 more once the certificate was signed.
As for what the “real estate developer” was getting out of the deal, Smith agreed to use his role in the legislature to secure state funds for a road project in Spring Valley that would ultimately benefit a real estate project he believed the undercover agent was developing.
The whole thing came crashing down the first week of April of 2013, when the men were arrested at their homes.
Halloran ended up serving about three years in prison, while Tabone has already been released. Last we heard, Smith was still serving out his seven-year sentence, the harshest of the three, which began in 2015.
Welcome back, Dan. We hear the Queens County Republican Party is still looking for someone to run for borough president this year!