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Halloran corruption trial judge allows Bloomberg campaign records evidence

Former Councilman Dan Halloran enters U.S. District Court

Former Councilman Dan Halloran enters U.S. District Court in White Plains during jury selection for a fraud and bribery trial. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The judge in former city councilman Dan Halloran's federal corruption trial on charges he paid bribes to political leaders to secure ballot access said Tuesday he'll let Halloran introduce 637 pages of Bloomberg campaign records to try to show he acted in good faith.

Over strong objections from the government, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains said Halloran -- who will testify in his own defense for a fifth day on Wednesday -- is entitled to try to show his "state of mind" based on payments ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg made.

"To the extent there is a parallel course of conduct . . . the inference was that it must be OK," said Karas, who previously tried to keep evidence about Bloomberg's behavior out of the case.

Halloran, a Queens Republican, is charged with bribery conspiracy, accused of taking payments from two FBI operatives posing as corrupt developers to assist in paying off GOP county leaders to let Democratic Queens state Sen. Malcolm Smith run for mayor in the 2013 Republican primary.

Smith, who needed a so-called "Wilson-Pakula" certificate from GOP leaders to run as a Republican, is to be tried next year with ex-Queens GOP leader Vincent Tabone. Smith says he was entrapped. Ex-Bronx GOP leader Joseph Savino pleaded guilty and testified against Halloran.

Halloran contends that the payments were permissible because he viewed the more than $20,000 cash he took as a political consulting fee and the $40,000 cash he helped to arrange for Tabone and Savino as either consulting fees or legal retainers.

He and his lawyer have also pointed to Bloomberg, who became an independent in 2007 and then made payments to county Republican committees in 2009 to be allowed to run on the GOP line.

Savino testified that Bloomberg's campaign also gave his brother a job.

Defense lawyer Vinoo Varghese said in a court filing that the campaign records will help show that Halloran believed "that what Mr. Bloomberg did in paying political operatives to help him obtain a Wilson-Pakula in prior elections was legal."

Prosecutors urged Karas to bar the records, arguing that Halloran is trying to confuse the jury by bringing Bloomberg into the case.

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