The United States attorney’s office in New York has charged Mr. Smith with orchestrating a campaign to bribe three of the five Republican county chairmen to give him a letter authorizing his run on the Republican line.
The go-between in that alleged plot to run for mayor was Daniel Halloran III, a Republican city councilman from Queens who is also on trial for bribery and wire fraud charges. To get him to go along with Mr. Smith’s ambitions, Mr. Stern and Mr. Modi gave him almost $40,000 in cash and $6,500 more in checks to his fruitless congressional campaign in 2012. His lawyer, Vinoo P. Varghese, contends the $40,000 was a series of personal loans and said the $6,500 was reported as campaign contributions.
Mr. Modi’s testimony painted an unflattering portrait of Mr. Halloran as a councilman eager to use his so-called member-item discretionary account to pay back large contributors like Mr. Stern and Mr. Modi. In this case, the quid pro quo was a no-show management consulting contract worth up to $80,000 for the renovation of a senior center in his northern Queens district run by a nonprofit called Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association.