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Former Queens Councilman Found Guilty in Bribery Trial

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It looks like another New York politician is headed behind bars. Former Queens City Councilman Dan Halloran was found guilty Tuesday of bribery and corruption charges after the jury wasted little time rendering its verdict. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

His trial began more than eight weeks ago and Dan Halloran spent more than six days on the witness stand testifying in his own defense. Yet it took a jury only about an hour and twenty minutes Tuesday to reach a verdict: guilty on all five counts.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the verdict,” said Halloran's attorney, Vinoo Varghese.

Using surveillance video gathered by an undercover FBI agent and a government informant, prosecutors showed Halloran both accepted and arranged bribes in exchange for his City Council member item funding, and as part of a scheme to help Democratic state Senator Malcolm Smith bribe his way onto the Republican ballot line for mayor last year.

“They weren’t bribes. That’s the bottom line, from our point of view,” Varghese said.

Halloran’s attorney maintained the $39,000 in cash the councilman pocketed was largely legitimate payment for political consulting work, and that he was entrapped by government agents. The former Queens lawmaker remains free on bail and says he’ll continue to fight.

“I trust in our legal system and that’s why I’m hopeful that at second circuit level, the law will actually get applied in a way that it was intended, as opposed to the way it was used by the U.S. attorney in this case,” Halloran said.

“There are numerous issues that arose during the trial and before the trial. And we’re going to explore those, both in papers before this judge and, obviously, ultimately, on appeal,” Varghese said.

Unexpected delays during trial led the judge to grant a mistrial to Smith and another co-defendant, who will now be tried in January.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: “Dan Halloran was the lone defendant in the trial that just ended in his conviction, but he is unfortunately not alone in a crowded field of New York officials who are willing to sell out their offices for self-enrichment.”

Jurors wouldn’t comment on why they reached a decision so quickly, though the jury foreman did tell us off-camera: "The verdict speaks for itself."

As for Halloran, he’s due back in court here December 12 for sentencing.

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