The federal corruption case involving a Queens State Senator and a Queens City Councilman may actually have gotten its start 25 miles north of New York City, in Rockland County. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
SPRING VALLEY, NY - It seemed like a normal day at the village hall in Spring Valley, New York, but it hasn't been particularly routine, not since federal agents arrested Mayor Noramie Jasmin and her deputy mayor on corruption charges.
They're alleged to have taken bribes from a developer to build a community center on a plot near the village offices.
A few miles away lies another of the case's landmarks, the unfinished hulk of a house belonging to Moses Mark Stern.
By all accounts, he's the developer who met with the mayor, and others. And with his help, federal officials can send to prison not just Rockland officials, but four city political figures, including Queens state Senator Malcolm Smith and Queens City Councilman Dan Halloran.
Stern allegedly helped Smith, a Democrat, try to secure a spot in the Republican mayoral primary.
Stern didn't answer the door at his would-be mansion. His lawyer could not be reached.
Federal investigators appear to have roped him by leveraging a huge debt that Stern owes Citigroup. The company said it's still trying to get him to repay a $126 million loan from a real estate deal gone bad.
Stern is an orthodox Jew. The mayor is Haitian-American. They are members of two groups with growing clout in the changing community.
Community activist Cassandra Edwards said the area used to be more of a mix of African-American and secular Jews.
She said people aren't surprised by the arrests.
"That's sad, but it's almost like you expect something to happen," she said. "I think overall, if we really balance out what's been happening in the village of Spring Valley over the last few years, it's been operating dysfunctionally anyway."
As for the mayor, she defended herself earlier this week.
"I'm asking the community not to prejudge me, rather, to keep me in your prayers for my good name to restore," Jasmin said.
Since returning to work, she's intent on refusing to say any more.
On Thursday, her office was trying to arrange a city shuttle to pick up someone stranded at the local Target store for two hours.