Malcolm Smith, who lost his state senate seat in last year’s election, and Vince Tabone, former vice-chairman of the Queens County Republican Party, were both found guilty on Thursday of an elaborate $200,000 bribery scheme to get Smith on the GOP primary ballot for the last mayoral election.
Smith is facing up to 45 years behind bars, while Tabone is looking at a potential three decades in prison, including an additional charge of intimidating a government witness.
Former councilman Dan Halloran was convicted in July of taking just over $20,000 to aid in the scheme, which would have utilized the little-known Wilson Pakula Act to get Smith, a south Queens Democrat, on the Republican line.
All three defendants used elaborate defenses to get off the hook: Halloran claimed a brain tumor clouded his judgment; Tabone said seven vodkas on an empty stomach clouded his; and Smith said he was a victim of entrapment.
According to the indictment, Smith promised to steer $500,000 in state transportation funds to a Rockland County developer in exchange for a bribe to Tabone to get Smith on the GOP ballot. Halloran, a Republican who once represented northeast Queens, was convicted of acting as an intermediary in the deal.
Meanwhile, the once-strong Queens County Republican Party that elected three people to the City Council in 2010 and helped upstate Republicans enjoy a strong majority in the State Senate in Albany, is in shambles due to infighting and financial issues.
The deserted county office on Francis Lewis Boulevard has a “For Rent” sign outside, and squabbling has divided the borough’s party faithful.
A person familiar with the county GOP said the move had to do more with former chairman Phil Ragusa’s recent death, because the site also served as his accounting office.
But another person within the party said the “eviction” had more to do with the party’s lack of financial support and its finances.
“They are in arrears,” said the source.
A call to the landlord’s office would only confirm that the party headquarters were no longer located in the building.