Mark Stern, the Rockland County political operative and fraudster whose work as an FBI informant netted Queens state Sen. Malcolm Smith and other pols, testified Thursday that he had no assigned target when he signed on in 2010.
"In my normal life I was still going to meetings and functions," said Stern, appearing for the first time as a witness in White Plains federal court at the corruption trial of former New York City Councilman Dan Halloran. "I would just report them to the FBI."
Halloran and Smith are charged with conspiring to pass bribes from Stern and an FBI undercover agent, who were posing as corrupt developers, to Republican county leaders to win Smith -- a Democrat -- a spot in the 2013 GOP mayoral primary. Smith's trial is set for January.
Stern, 41, a political insider in the Orthodox Jewish community, began cooperating after he was charged with mortgage and bank fraud, and faced up to 455 years in prison. Prosecutors did not call him as a witness, but Halloran's lawyer put him on the stand as a defense witness.
Answering questions quietly, tersely and deliberately, Stern insisted his job was not to dig for dirt but to "give knowledge that I know." Halloran contends that he was entrapped, and that he viewed the alleged bribes as legal retainers and consulting fees.