Malcolm Smith (American politician)

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Malcolm Smith
New York State Senator Malcolm Smith 2009 cropped.jpg
Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
January 7, 2009 – June 8, 2009
Governor David Paterson
Preceded by Dean Skelos
Succeeded by Pedro Espada Jr.
Member of the New York Senate
from the 14th district
In office
2003 – December 31, 2014
Preceded by George Onorato
Succeeded by Leroy Comrie
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
In office
January 7, 2009 – June 8, 2009
Preceded by Dean Skelos
Succeeded by Dean Skelos
President Pro Tem of the New York State Senate
In office
July 9, 2009 – December 31, 2010
Preceded by Pedro Espada Jr.
Succeeded by Dean Skelos
Member of the New York Senate
from the 10th district
In office
Preceded by Alton R. Waldon Jr.
Succeeded by Ada L. Smith
Personal details
Malcolm Anthony Smith[1]

(1956-08-09) August 9, 1956 (age 62)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michele Lisby
Children 4
Alma mater Fordham University
Adelphi University
Profession Real estate developer

Malcolm Anthony Smith (born August 9, 1956) is an American politician who was convicted of public corruption. He was a Democratic member of the New York State Senate for the 14th district, located in a portion of southeast Queens that includes Hollis, St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens and parts of Jamaica. Smith served as New York State Senate Majority Leader in 2009 and served as Temporary President of the New York State Senate from 2009 to 2010. He was the first African-American to hold those positions.

On April 2, 2013, Smith was arrested by the FBI on federal corruption charges. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the New York FBI alleged that Smith attempted to secure a spot on the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral election through bribery of New York City Councilman Dan Halloran and two other Republican officials.[2][3] In September 2014, Smith's Democratic primary challenger, former New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie, defeated Smith in a landslide.[4] The following year, Smith was convicted of all charges against him and sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

Early life

A Queens native, Malcolm Smith earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Fordham University and went on to earn an MBA from Adelphi University. At Adelphi, he was inducted into Delta Mu Delta, an honor society for business administration. He has also completed certificate programs from Harvard Law School{verify} and Wharton Business School.[5]

Prior to his political career, Smith worked in real estate development. In 1985, he was named president of Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica. In 1991, he founded Smith Development Corporation, and subsequently built over 100 housing units in southeastern Queens, Far Rockaway and Brooklyn. He was also responsible for several notable commercial projects such as the Pathmark Plaza-Springfield Gardens, the interior of the Federal Aviation Administration building, and the baseball fields at Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica.[5]

Political career

Smith began his political career as a senior aide and political protégé to Congressman Floyd H. Flake from 1986 to 1991.[6][7] Smith also served as a chief aide to City Councilman Archie Spigner, who was an assistant to Mayor Ed Koch,[8] and a member of the advance staff for vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.[5]

Malcolm Smith was first elected to the New York State Senate in 2000, in a special election. He was elected minority leader in January 2007, succeeding David Paterson.[8] After the 2008 state elections, Democrats gained a majority of seats in the State Senate for the first time in 40 years, and Smith was subsequently chosen as Majority Leader and Temporary President of the body in January 2009. He was the first African American to hold this position.[9] However, on June 8 of that year, Sens. Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate joined with the thirty Republicans in voting to replace Smith as Senate Majority Leader, triggering the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis.[10] The crisis concluded the following month when Espada and Monserrate abandoned their alliance with the Republicans and rejoined the Senate Democratic Conference. As a compromise, Smith retained only the title of Temporary President of the Senate, with the title of Majority Leader going to Espada.[11]

Smith's legislative achievements included securing funding for a health clinic in Hollis, a toxic waste cleanup project in Jamaica,[5] and a three-bill package to combat child sexual abuse.[12] He also helped launch a series of forums statewide for prevention of foreclosure.[13]

Smith also sought to curb gun violence.[14] In the wake of the Sean Bell shooting incident, Smith created and chaired the Tri-Level Legislative Task Force, which released a report on increasing public confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Some of its recommendations were passed by the state legislature.[15]

Smith was re-elected to his State Senate seat without opposition in 2012.[16] Following his reelection, he joined forces with the Independent Democratic Conference to form a "bipartisan governing coalition" with Senate Republicans. He expressed interest in running for mayor of New York City as a Republican in the 2013 mayoral election.[17] He would have needed a Wilson Pakula certification in order to do so.[18] His attempts to obtain that certification led to his arrest by the FBI on corruption charges for attempting to bribe the Republican Party county leaders whose permission he needed to run on the Republican ticket despite being a registered Democrat.[2][3][19] On April 2, 2013, Smith was arrested by the FBI on federal corruption charges.[2][3] Following Smith's arrest, he was expelled from the Independent Democratic Conference.[20] In September 2014, Smith's Democratic primary challenger, former New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie, defeated Smith in a landslide.[4]

Criminal trial and conviction

Smith's trial, along with co-defendants Dan Halloran, Joseph J. Savino, Vincent Tabone, and Joseph Desmaret, began in the Federal Court in White Plains, New York, on June 1, 2014.[21] Shortly after the trial started, it became known that some of the conversations that were secretly recorded and could be used as evidence were in Yiddish, but the prosecutors had not given those recordings to the defense. Because the Yiddish amounted to more than 28 hours on the recordings, which would have taken weeks to translate and transcribe, some of the defendants requested and were granted a mistrial on June 17, 2014.[22][23] Halloran did not request a mistrial, and was convicted of the charges against him.[24][25]

In September 2014, primary voters in Queens decisively turned against Smith in the Democratic primary, and his opponent, Leroy Comrie, a former city councilman, won in a landslide.[4]

At his second trial, despite the delay due to the mistrial, Smith was convicted of all the corruption charges he faced on February 5, 2015, including conspiracy, wire fraud, travel act bribery, and extortion.[26] The jury deliberated only briefly before returning with the guilty verdict.[27] On July 1, 2015, Judge Kenneth M. Karas sentenced Smith to seven years in prison.[28][29]

As of August 2016, Smith was housed in the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.[30]

Other controversies

In August 2008, Smith held a golf-outing fundraiser for a group of 75 lobbyists, who each paid up to $75,000 to attend. One lobbyist who attended told the New York Post that Smith told the assembled group that giving him campaign contributions was akin to an IPO, in that they "should get in early because then it doesn't cost as much. The longer you wait to get in... the more it will cost you and if you don't get in at all, then it will be painful." The lobbyist said that, after these remarks, "people were looking around the room in disbelief."[31]

In 2010, a federal grand jury investigated Smith's involvement in various nonprofit groups.[6][7]

In 2010, Smith stated that if the Democrats retained control of the State Senate in the 2010 elections, he would direct his caucus to use gerrymandering and "draw the lines so that Republicans will be in oblivion for the next twenty years."[32] The Democrats lost control of the chamber in that election and his threat would not be fulfilled.

Personal life

Smith is a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He is married to Michele Lisby-Smith. They have three children, Tracey, Julian and Amanda. In 2006, a former aide of Smith's filed a paternity suit against him, and he eventually acknowledged paternity of the aide's child and began paying child support.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Manhattan U.S. Attorney And FBI Assistant Director-In-Charge Announce Federal Corruption Charges Against New York State Senator Malcolm Smith And New York City Council Member Daniel Halloran" (Press release). United States Department of Justice, US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
  3. ^ a b c "Criminal Complaint filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. March 29, 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b c McKinley, Jesse (10 September 2014). "Democrats Reject Indicted State Senator in Queens but Renominate One in Brooklyn". New York Times. p. A24. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Smith, Malcolm". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b Vincent, Isabel; Klein, Melissa (February 14, 2010). "$$ Links of Mentor Flake & Pupil Smith". New York Post. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Lovett, Kenneth; Ross, Barbara; Smith, Greg B. (April 1, 2010). "Federal Grand Jury Probes Real Estate and Nonprofit Deals for Malcolm Smith, Other Queens Pols". Daily News. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Confessore, Nicholas (November 27, 2008). "For State Senate, Delay to Get a Majority Leader". New York Times. p. A35. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  9. ^ Pehme, Morgan (July 30, 2010). "Malcolm on the Muddle". City & State. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  10. ^ Schwach, Howard (June 12, 2009). "Smith Ousted From Senate Leadership Position". Wave of Long Island. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  11. ^ Hakim, Danny (July 10, 2009). "Albany Impasse Ends as Defector Rejoins Caucus". New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Governor Signs Measure Spearheaded By Senator Smith Strengthening Child Sex Abuse Crimes". New York State Senate. August 8, 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Smith Advances Legislation to Help Stem the Tide of Mortgage Foreclosure". New York State Senate. June 3, 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Press Release - State Sen. Malcolm Smith Secures $3M in Funding for Anti-Gun Violence Program - "Operation SNUG"". New York State Senate. March 27, 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Tri Level Legislative Taskforce Hosts Final Hearing On Police Protocol And Reform". New York State Senate. November 25, 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  16. ^ "New York State Legislature – Election 2012". New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  17. ^ Kaplan, Thomas; Hakim, Danny (December 5, 2012). "Coalition Is to Control State Senate as Dissident Democrats Join With Republicans". New York Times. p. A26. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  18. ^ Benjamin, Liz (August 1, 2012). "Malcolm For Mayor On GOP Line Over Before It Starts?". Your News Now. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  19. ^ Wilson, Michael; Rashbaum, William K. (April 3, 2013). "Lawmakers in New York Tied to Bribery Plot in Mayor Race". New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  20. ^ Toure, Medina (25 January 2017). "Queens State Senator Becomes Latest Democrat to Join Breakaway GOP-Aligned Faction". Observer. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  21. ^ Berger, Joseph (June 2, 2014). "Trial Begins for Queens Democrat Charged With Bribery, Extortion and Fraud". New York Times. p. A19. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  22. ^ Berger, Joseph (June 18, 2014). "Mistrial Is Declared in Malcolm Smith Corruption Trial". New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  23. ^ Jim Fitzgerald (June 17, 2014). "Malcolm Smith Corruption Trial Ends In Mistrial". ABC7. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  24. ^ Santora, Marc (July 30, 2014). "Ex-New York Councilman Is Convicted in Corruption Case". New York Times. p. A24. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  25. ^ Riley, John (July 29, 2014). "Dan Halloran, Former NYC Councilman, Convicted of Bribery". Newsday. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  26. ^ Orden, Erica (February 5, 2015). "Former N.Y. State Senator Malcolm Smith Convicted of Bribery". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  27. ^ Vega, Tanzina (February 6, 2015). "Malcolm Smith, Ex-New York Senate Chief, Is Convicted of Corruption". New York Times. p. A20. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  28. ^ DeGregory, Priscilla; Greene, Leonard (July 1, 2015). "Malcolm Smith Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison". New York Post. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  29. ^ Berger, Joseph (July 2, 2015). "Malcolm Smith, Ex-New York Senate Majority Leader, Is Sentenced to 7 Years in Bribery Case". New York Times. p. A18. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Inmate Locator - Federal Bureau of Prisons". United States Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  31. ^ Albany $queeze Play, Fredric U. Dicker. New York Post, August 18, 2008.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

New York State Senate
Preceded by
Alton R. Waldon Jr.
New York State Senate
10th District

Succeeded by
Ada L. Smith
Preceded by
George Onorato
New York State Senate
14th District

Succeeded by
Leroy Comrie
Political offices
Preceded by
David Paterson
Minority Leader in the New York State Senate
Succeeded by
Dean Skelos
Preceded by
Dean Skelos
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
Succeeded by
2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis (Both Smith and Skelos claimed to be Majority Leader)
Preceded by
Dean Skelos
Lieutenant Governor of New York

Succeeded by
Pedro Espada, Jr.
Preceded by
Pedro Espada Jr.
Temporary President of the New York State Senate
Succeeded by
Dean Skelos

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