State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran of Queens pleaded not guilty to attempting to rig this year's mayoral race, as did four other political figures who were arraigned in federal court in White Plains on corruption charges on Tuesday. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
State Senator Malcolm Smith walked silently through the gauntlet of cameras in White Plains on Tuesday. Inside federal court, he let his lawyer do the talking.
The lawyer said the former senate Democratic leader is not guilty on corruption charges that could land him in prison for 45 years.
It was the same plea for five others, including Queens Councilman Dan Halloran, who faces the same prison sentence.
When Halloran was asked for comment outside the courthouse Tuesday, he said, "I said it all in the courtroom. Not guilty."
When asked if he was going to beat the charges, Halloran said, "Absolutely. That's why I have a day in court, right? It's not trial by press."
Feds accused the pair of scheming to get the Democrat Smith on this year's mayoral ballot as a Republican.
Also charged are two former GOP leaders, Jay Savino from the Bronx and Vincent Tabone from Queens.
"In every life, a little rain must fall," Tabone said.
Tabone and Savino are each accused of taking $40,000 to get Smith on the Republican primary ballot.
Smith allegedly used an undercover FBI agent and a cooperating witness to negotiate and pay the bribes.
In turn, Smith allegedly promised to help the witness with a real estate project in the Rockland County village of Spring Valley.
Mayor Noramie Jasmin of Spring Valley and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret are also charged and face 20 years in prison each. Spring Valley residents were left stunned.
"The whole village is sad, saddened about this whole ordeal. We elected her to really represent the village, and she was the first Haitian-American to be mayor, first woman to be mayor. So it's a blow to us," said Vilair Fonvil, a Spring Valley activist.
Smith also made history when he became state Senate majority leader in 2009. He was soon after deposed.
This year, Smith joined a breakaway group of Democrats to form a coalition with Republicans. After his arrest, he was stripped of his leadership positions and now sits literally in the corner of the State Senate chamber in Albany.
Off-camera, Smith told NY1 he will beat the charges. Supporters said the senator has faith.
"He would say to his constituents to just pray for him. Pray for him, keep him in prayer," said the Reverend Damon Cabbagestalk Jr. of Joppa Christian Ministries.
It could be months before Smith finds out if his prayers come true. The next court date is July 19.