A high-ranking Democratic New York State senator was arrested today for trying to buy a place on the ticket in the next New York City mayoral race.
Five other politicians, three Republicans and two Democrats, were also busted and charged with collectively accepting more than $100,000 in bribes.
Authorities described the scheme - one of New York's biggest in years - as an attempt to game the city's first wide-open mayoral election in a decade.
New York City will choose a new mayor in November, just before Michael Bloomberg, who took office in 2001, ends his third and final term as Hizzoner.
The charges center on State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) who prosecutors said made payments to a city councilman to set up meetings.
In those meetings, he allegedly tried to convince top New York Republicans to assist in getting him on the mayoral ballot in this November's election.
Smith and the councilman, Daniel Halloran, a Republican from Queens, were among the six politicians arrested in connection to the bribery scandal.
Charges against them include bribery, extortion, and wire and mail fraud.
"From time to time the question arises, how common is corruption in New York?" said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at a press conference.
"Based on the cases we continue to bring, it seems downright pervasive."
Authorities arrested four other politicians:
- Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone (R)
- Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Savino (R)
- Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin (D)
- Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret (D)
Smith's lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said only that "Malcolm Smith is a dedicated public servant who has served his constituents in an exemplary fashion."
Representatives of the other five officials all either declined to comment or did not respond to phone calls on Tuesday morning after their arrests.