A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the federal corruption case against state Sen. Malcolm Smith, meaning his campaign to keep his Queens seat can proceed without fear of a conviction before Election Day.
One of his co-defendants, former Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone, also received a mistrial, but former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran opted to go forward on his own.
The three are accused of scheming to bribe Republican party leaders so Smith, a Democrat, could run for the GOP line in the New York City mayoral race.
The mistrial was caused in part by the prosecution’s late release of more than 70 hours of secret recordings involving a government informant, including 28 hours in Yiddish. The trial was already behind schedule, and the release of the recordings pushed it back even further. Not enough of the jurors could serve that long.
Smith’s lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said he believed the newly released tapes will help Smith at his retrial, scheduled for Jan. 5. Tabone also will be retried in January.
Southern District Judge Kenneth Karas (See Profile) had initially decided to postpone the trial until June 25 to give defense attorneys time to translate the recordings. He asked the 15 jurors and alternates if they could stay with the case until July 18, his estimate of when it would end.
Karas determined that only 11 would be able to stay. He then granted mistrial motions from Smith and Tabone. Halloran, who according to his lawyer, Vinoo Varghese, is “teetering on bankruptcy,” objected to a mistrial.
When prosecutors suggested trying Halloran alone, the judge found that a 12th juror could serve because that would mean a shorter trial. Halloran agreed to go forward.