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Malcolm Smith judge to decide on mistrial Monday

The Democratic state senator from Queens, Malcolm Smith,

The Democratic state senator from Queens, Malcolm Smith, enters White Plains federal courthouse on June 13, 2014, in White Plains. Credit: Richard Harbus

The judge in the federal corruption trial of former State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said Friday that he will decide on Monday whether to declare a mistrial based on the government's new disclosure of hundreds of taped conversations of its chief informant.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas told prosecutors it was unreasonable to expect the defense to digest a year's worth of wiretapped conversations of cooperating witness Mark Stern, many in Yiddish, in time to resume trial on Monday.

"It's not like listening to Beethoven," the judge said.

Lawyers for Smith, a Queens Democrat charged in White Plains federal court with a bribery conspiracy to win a spot on the 2013 Republican mayoral primary ballot, have asked Karas to halt the 2-week-old trial and start fresh after they have had time to digest the new material.

Lawyers for two co-defendants, former city councilman Dan Halloran and former Queens GOP official Vincent Tabone, asked Karas to dismiss the case because of late disclosure of the tapes. Prosecutors told him the informant said nothing important and the trial could continue.

Karas said he would have jurors, who were told the trial would end in late June, come back on Tuesday. He said he might ask if they would be able to resume after a break of a week or two.

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