Defense eager to attack NYC ballot-line case

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Defense attorneys say they will attack the legal underpinnings of the federal corruption case against six state and local politicians in New York.

Several lawyers served notice in court Friday that they will file motions seeking dismissal of various counts in the indictment.

The judge set a schedule that delays an actual trial at least until early next year.

The case alleges a plot to buy state Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, the Republican line on New York City’s mayoral ballot. New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, two GOP leaders from the city and two suburban politicians are also charged.

All have pleaded not guilty.

The defense has been examining the prosecution’s evidence for three months. Smith’s lawyer said the more evidence he sees, the more confident he is.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

There’s been a lot of evidence to sort through, and it’s been three months since state Sen. Malcolm Smith and five co-defendants have been in court in the federal bribery case that alleges a plot to buy Smith the Republican line on New York City’s mayoral ballot.

They’re back on the docket Friday at the courthouse in White Plains, and another long gap between sessions is unlikely.

Judge Kenneth Karas gave the defense teams time to examine the prosecution’s evidence and consider what motions they would propose, and he may set a schedule that could provide a good idea of how long it will be before the trial starts.

Only after the judge rules on motions can a trial begin.

Ross Kramer, an attorney for Smith, said that after a schedule is set, he expects to move for dismissal of at least some counts of the indictment. He would not elaborate.

The conference also gives defense attorneys an opportunity to complain if they feel prosecutors are not sharing enough of the evidence. There’s plenty already disclosed, though. Each defense team was asked to provide a 150-gigabyte hard drive to hold the videos and documents the prosecution has marshaled for the trial.

Much of the evidence will come from recordings made by an undercover FBI agent and a cooperating witness.

Smith is accused of scheming with New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, a Republican, to bribe county Republican leaders for the GOP line on this year’s mayoral ballot.

Because he is a Democrat, Smith would have needed three leaders’ permission.

The indictment said two Republican Party leaders, Joseph Savino of the Bronx and Vincent Tabone of Queens, accepted tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for their agreement.

In a separate bribery scheme, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret are accused of taking money and property to approve a real estate project.

Each defendant could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Under their bail conditions, defendants need permission from the judge to leave the metropolitan area, and the case files reveal that Smith was allowed to go to his granddaughter’s high school graduation in Maryland and Halloran won permission to take underwater diving lessons in Pennsylvania.

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