Dan Halloran left the City Council in January under a cloud of scandal and facing a federal indictment. His corruption trial is coming to a close, and the last witness to take the stand is Halloran himself. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Former City Councilman Dan Halloran strode into federal court on Thursday, looking nervous.
Gross: You ready to take the stand today?
Halloran: I am ready. Looking forward to clearing my name.
In a highly unusual move for a political corruption trial, Halloran took the witness stand in his own defense.
"Dan is an honest man," said Vinoo Varghese, Halloran's attorney. "I know you don't hear that with politicians, but Dan is an honest politician. He served his community, served his public, and he wants to clear his name and is looking for the opportunity to do that."
Halloran is expected to spend days on the stand. Thursday, he was there for the first time for about three hours.
So far, he has extolled his background as a boy scout, and said he got into politics because of the September 11 attacks.
In his palm while on the stand was a pin once belonging to his father.
"It's my father's shield from when he worked for Mayor Koch," Halloran said.
So far, the councilman has barely addressed the allegations against him, that he took bribes and sold off his City Council member items, and that he tried to illegally secure the GOP line for state Senator Malcolm Smith during the 2013 race for mayor.
Halloran did begin to describe his relationship with the government's informant, who is key to the prosecution's case.
The former councilman said a cash envelope with $5,000 he accepted from that informant was not a bribe. It was a personal loan, money meant to help secure a mortgage refinancing.
The councilman and his attorney also danced around the topic of his 2012 brain surgery, a subject the court has deemed inadmissible.
"It's just part of the narrative," Varghese said. "He had to suspend his campaign for three months because he had to recover."
Halloran appears confident on the stand, looking at the jury directly as he tells his side of the story. It's unclear if that confidence will remain when the prosecution starts asking questions.