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Smith indicted; informant hires White Plains attorney

State Senator Malcolm Smith co-chairs the New York

State Senator Malcolm Smith co-chairs the New York State Senate's Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy roundtable discussion. Smith was one of six people to have been arrested as part of a public corruption investigation, the FBI says. (Jan. 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

The key cooperating witness in the corruption case against state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith is being represented by a former federal prosecutor in White Plains as indictments have been handed up.

Kerry A. Lawrence, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan and was in charge of the office's White Plains branch for two years, confirmed for Newsday he represents Mark Stern, also known as Moses Stern. Sources said Stern helped the FBI develop the case against Smith and five others, including Queens Republican councilman Daniel Halloran.

Federal prosecutors formally indicted Smith (D-Queens) and five others yesterday in a suspected bribery plot. His arraignment is set for noon Tuesday in White Plains.

The 10-count indictment includes charges of bribery, conspiracy and extortion in a scheme which allegedly centered not only on rigging a spot for Smith in the New York City mayoral primary ballot but also approving a Rockland County real-estate project to pay off the bribes.

In a new wrinkle, the indictment notes the informant talked with Smith about providing $100,000 for Smith to give other state senators in an effort to win their support of Smith for a Senate leadership post.

Lawrence wouldn't comment further about the case, which hit the headlines three weeks ago with the arrest of Smith, Halloran, two city Republican Party officials and the mayor and deputy mayor of Spring Valley.

The original criminal complaint claimed a confidential witness -- which numerous sources identified as Stern -- helped an undercover FBI agent build political corruption cases against the six defendants. The complaint accused Smith, a Democrat, of agreeing with Halloran to pay bribes to the Republican Party officials so he could get a spot on the mayoral primary ballot. Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret were accused of corruptly approving the sale of public land in return for bribes. All defendants have pleaded not guilty and are free on bond.

The complaint indicated Stern pleaded guilty in March to unspecified federal charges.

He has been a principal in the firm of Calhoun & Lawrence LLP since 2000. As a federal prosecutor, Lawrence took part in white collar, public corruption and racketeering investigations, according to his firm's website.

With Yancey Roy

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