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Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, deputy arrested by FBI for alleged plot to rig NYC mayor's race

Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin returns to her

Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin returns to her home after being arrested in connection with a corruption and bribery scandal. (April 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Lili Holzer-Glier

Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph A. Desmaret were arrested Tuesday morning by FBI agents as part of a scheme to aid a Democratic state senator's bid to gain the Republican nomination for mayor of New York City, according to a criminal complaint.

The two Spring Valley politicians were taken into custody at their homes at about 6 a.m. by FBI's Public Corruption Squad.

The arrests were in connection to a bribery scheme, law enforcement sources said. The Spring Valley Police Department was not involved in the arrests.

Jasmin and Desmaret will likely be presented before a federal magistrate judge in federal court in White Plains later today, sources said.

In addition to Jasmin and Desmaret, two New York City elected officials -- state Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), according to law enforcement sources -- were also taken into custody on charges connected to attempted election rigging though sources would not say what if any connection those arrests had to the Spring Valley case.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was expected to announce the arrests at a news conference this morning in Manhattan. Bharara claims the scheme was orchestrated by Smith to pave his way to Gracie Mansion.

"Today's charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government," Bharara said.

"The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself," he added.

"As alleged, Senator Malcolm Smith tried to bribe his way to a shot at Gracie Mansion -- Smith drew up the game plan and Councilman Halloran essentially quarterbacked that drive by finding party chairmen who were wide open to receiving bribes. After the string of public corruption scandals that we have brought to light, many may rightly resign themselves to the sad truth that perhaps the most powerful special interest in politics is self-interest. We will continue pursuing and punishing every corrupt official we find, but the public corruption crisis in New York is more than a prosecutor's problem."

The criminal complaint claims Smith was snared with the help of an FBI agent posing as a developer looking for state funds to benefit a real estate project in Spring Valley.

On March 21, 2013 at a meeting with two undercover agents in Smith's Albany office, Smith balked at paying out "even a nickel more" in payments to committee leaders until they publicly endorsed him, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

"He'd have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person (he) endorsed and hold Malcolm up and say he's the best thing since sliced bread," according to the complaint. "Matter of fact, he's better than sliced bread."

The complaint alleges that Jasmin aided the scheme by voting in favor of the village's sale of land to a company looking to build a real estate project. In return for her vote, Jasmin was given an undisclosed ownership interest in the project, the complaint says.

Jasmin and Desmaret are Haitian-Americans who have maintained strong ties to their homeland.

Jasmin still has a home there and Desmaret was among a group of 15 Spring Valley residents who traveled to Haiti to aid victims after an earthquake struck in January 2010, according to The Associated Press.

Jasmin is currently in her fourth year of her first term as Spring Valley mayor in the Town of Ramapo. Her seat is up for election in November. Many Rocklanders have already announced their bid for Spring Valley mayor this year, including Ramapo Councilman Daniel Friedman.

Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence told Newsday he first heard about the arrests on the radio Tuesday. "It's a shock to me. The village has been kind of moving along in economic development; the village has great needs and this is just (Jasmine's) first term."

St. Lawrence said there have been "rumors" swirling in recent days about a probe into Jasmine's dealings, including Section 8 housing in the village.

"You always hear these rumors; they make it halfway around the world before the truth comes out," St. Lawrence said. St. Lawrence said he was unaware of the plot of land that's being referenced in the federal complaint.

State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) is expected to comment on the arrests late Tuesday morning.

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