BY JOE MARVILLI
A mistrial was announced this week in the corruption case against State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis), pushing proceedings back until next year.
The motion came after the U.S. Attorney’s Office recently disclosed many untranslated Yiddish recordings, which now need to be sifted through. The process would push the trial until mid-July; an extension that the majority of the jury said it could not comply with. Therefore, Judge Kenneth Karas of U.S. District Court declared a mistrial for Smith and the Queens GOP’s former vice chairman, Vincent Tabone, with a new trial set for Jan. 5, 2015.
The recently revealed information held up the trial, due to the difficulty of translating the Yiddish conversations recorded by informant Moses Stern. Prosecutors said that the information is not relevant to the case; Smith’s lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said that decision is not for them to decide.
The defense lawyers for Smith and Tabone also argued that the conversations might add to their case their clients were victims of entrapment.
“The motion for mistrial was born of necessity given this late disclosure of information that we believe is valuable to the defense,” Shargel said.
The mistrial has inadvertently given Smith what he was asking for earlier this year: a delay in his case until after this year’s election, where he is facing a September primary from former councilman Leroy Comrie, attorney Clyde Vanel, attorney Munir Avery and Bernadette Semple.
Comrie said that the mistrial does not change his opinion that Smith is no longer an effective official.
“I am running because Malcolm Smith can no longer function as a legislator. What we’ve learned over the last few weeks bolsters everything we’ve known all along about the race and the need for change,” he said.
Comrie added that the case has not been dismissed and Smith will eventually have to face the charges against him.
“This election is too important to allow these legal proceedings to distract us,” he added. “Whether it is next week or in two months, one thing we all know is that Malcolm Smith will have to answer for his behavior.”
Vanel stated that he does not know if the mistrial will affect the upcoming election but he is ready to take on Smith.
“I look forward to a spirited debate to make sure we have the best representation we can in New York State,” he said.
Former councilman Dan Halloran chose to continue his case immediately, and he is due back in court next Wednesday.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.