Former City Councilman Dan Halloran has been testifying in his own corruption trial for five days. Today, Halloran argued that envelopes full of cash given to GOP leaders last year were not bribes. The whole thing was caught on tape. NY1's Courtney Gross was in the courtroom and she filed the following report.
The heart of the government's case against Dan Halloran comes down to this meeting: Valentines Day of 2013.
It was captured by undercover video. It's when Republican Party leaders were allegedly bribed to get Democrat Malcolm Smith on the ballot.
Federal prosecutors say it was Dan Halloran who brought them all together.
On the witness stand on Wednesday, Halloran went through this meeting piece by piece.
He says these leaders were not bribed; they were accepting consultant fees, or what he called retainers, for work they would do later on the Smith campaign.
As Halloran sat inside, an undercover FBI agent took several GOP leaders outside to his car and handed them envelopes filled with thousands of dollars in cash... Halloran says he didn't know exactly where they were going.
Halloran:"I didn't know they were outside."
NY1:"Where did you think they were?"
Halloran:"At one point they walked over to the bar."
Seventeen months ago, Halloran was told directly one party leader accepted this so-called retainer.
Halloran: "I gotta get back to [expletive] Queens dude."
Undercover Agent: I know you do, and I really appreciate it. We worked out an arrangement where I'm going to retain him, so..."
Halloran: "Okay. That's good, I'm glad to hear it. I'm glad to hear it."
On the stand, Halloran said the tapes back up his defense—that he went out of his way to make sure there was no quid pro quo.
In fact, he pointed to conversations that night.
"You can't have a quid pro quo, and he said that repeatedly. And if you saw Dan on the stand today, he was emphasizing that," said Halloran's attorney, Vinoo Varghese.
After five days on the witness stand, federal prosecutors will finally get their opportunity to challenge all of these arguments.
Halloran's cross examination starts on Thursday.