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Former Bronx GOP Chairman Pleads Guilty In Connection With Alleged Bribery Scheme

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The former chairman of the Bronx Republican Party pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a bribery scandal that tried to put state Senator Malcolm Smith on the ballot in the race for mayor. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Before Bill de Blasio swept up the city's electorate, state Senator Malcolm Smith wanted to be mayor. He wanted to run on the Republican line. The problem: he's a Democrat.

Jay Savino had a solution. It would just cost $15,000.

The former GOP chairman of the Bronx pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud in federal court in White Plains on Tuesday.

"I just wanted to say that I've accepted responsibility for what I've done," he said. "I want to apologize to anybody that believed in me, and I hope that I and my family will be able to move on from here."

Back in April, when the original scheme was uncovered, Savino pleaded not guilty.

His co-defendants - Smith, City Councilman Dan Halloran and a member of the Queens Republican Party - are awaiting trial.

Savino's attorney would not say whether his client is now cooperating with the government.

In court, Savino said that he accepted $15,000 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for his support to put smith on the republican line to run for mayor.

It was Halloran, Savino said, that arranged the meeting between the undercover agent and Savino.

It's unclear how Savino's plea will affect Smith and Halloran's cases.

"I wouldn't speculate, and I can't say anything at this point in time," said Robert LaRusso, Savino's attorney.

Savino will be back in court in February for sentencing. The maximum sentence for his charges is 30 years in prison.

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