Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret and Bronx GOP leader Joseph "Jay" Savino have hired new lawyers to represent them in the public corruption case that included a plot to rig the New York City mayoral race and to build a Spring Valley community center through bribes and secret ownership deals.
Desmaret, 55, has hired former Rockland County District Attorney Kenneth Gribetz as his attorney in the case, according to court documents. Desmaret is accused of taking $10,500 in bribes from government informant and Monsey real estate developer Moses "Mark" Stern to vote to approve Stern and an undercover FBI agent as the developers of a planned community center near Spring Valley Village Hall.
Gribetz filed his appearance in U.S. District Court in White Plains on behalf of Desmaret Tuesday afternoon and said Wednesday that his client would plead not guilty if indicted.
"We'll be reviewing the materials that hopefully will be turned over to us by the prosecution, including any audio and video tapes, and especially the plea agreement signed by the cooperating witness and we'll go from there," Gribetz said.
Gribetz was the Rockland County District Attorney from 1975 to 1995. He resigned in May 1995 after pleading guilty to two federal misdemeanor counts of failing to report $36,000 in taxable income and using county investigators to run personal errands for him.
The other Spring Valley official charged in the case, Mayor Noramie Jasmin is accused of plotting to have a secret 50 percent interest in the contract and building of the center in return for steering the development deal to Stern and the undercover FBI agent.
Savino, who has homes in the Bronx and in Congers, has hired Mineola lawyer Joseph Conway to represent him in the case, according to court records.
Savino, 45, is accused of accepting a $15,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent to back Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith's bid to secure a spot on the Republican line for the next New York City Mayoral race. Savino is also accused of telling the undercover agent that he wanted him to purchase insurance from Savino's company and send legal work to his law firm.
Conway did not return calls seeking comment. He is the former chief federal prosecutor for Long Island. He left the U.S. attorney's office in 2004 and started his own law firm. The Suffolk County Legislature hired him in 2010 to investigate the county ethics commission's handling of County Executive Steve Levy's financial disclosures.
Desmaret and Savino are free on bond. They are due back in U.S. District Court in White Plains April 23 along with Smith, Jasmin, Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone, and Republican New York City Councilmember Daniel Halloran. They were all arrested April 2 during dawn raids by FBI agents.