A senior New York State politician was arrested Tuesday on charges that he tried to bribe his way onto the ballot for the state’s upcoming mayoral election.
Malcolm Smith, a veteran Democratic senator in the state assembly in Albany, was among six people, including several local officials, charged in the alleged scheme.
Prosecutors say that Smith, 56, tried to bribe Republicans to put him on their party's ticket for the November election to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is stepping down.
"The criminal complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption" stretching from New York City to Albany, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said, according to the AFP news agency.
The FBI's assistant director, George Venizelos, said "public service is not supposed to be a shortcut to self-enrichment... There is a price to pay for that kind of betrayal."
The allegation is that $80,000 was paid or offered in the scheme that centered on Smith trying to get the necessary backing from three New York City Republican leaders for him to run on their party's ballot.
"Smith broached the subject of his mayoral ambition with two men he believed were real estate developers and sought their help in influencing the Republican county chairmen. In fact, these two men were working with the government -- one was an undercover FBI agent and the other was a cooperating witness," Bharara said.
"Smith had repeated recorded conversations with these two men -- sometimes in a hotel room -- about making payments to party leaders so that he could run on the Republican line for mayor," the chief prosecutor said. "He allegedly discussed which chairmep front versus after the deed was done, and how to make sure there was 'no trace back' to Smith."
The state senator is expected to face a maximum of 25 years in prison if found guilty. Among the others charged were New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and the Republican chairmen of the Bronx and Queens boroughs.
Mayoral hopeful and supermarket tycoon John Catsimatidis said the arrests "point to a culture of n were susceptible to bribes, how much to pay them in total, how much to pay ucorruption that permeates our city and state," AFP reported.