You are on page 1of 8

A former New York City Councilman is appealing his Federal conviction on several grounds including

substantial improprieties in the governments tactics during its investigation and the questionable
applications of state and federal laws by the trial Court.

The federal government manufactured both the crime and criminal jurisdiction where there was
none, appellate briefs will contend, which are being prepared now on behalf of Daniel J. Halloran III, a
5th generation Queens native and former prosecutor himself. The 19th District of New York Citys
Councilman for the past 4 years, Halloran will argue that the Government invented a crime and then
intentionally twisted state law to create criminal liability where none existed. Some legal experts see
numerous problems with the government scheme, including its use of a cell phone with a North
Carolina area code by one of their undercover Agents. As it turns out, this out of state phone number
was the sole basis for the Federal government to acquire jurisdiction, and it seems to have been
chosen for just for that purpose. What was clear from the trial record was that nothing is alleged to
have happened outside of New York, begging the question; why was the FBI and Federal Government
involved in such an investigation at all?

The manufacturing of jurisdiction by the Federal government violates the Archer Rule created by
U.S. v. Archer, according to 2nd Circuit Case law. In that case, the federal government attempted to
gain jurisdiction in Queens County by having a local prosecutor, allegedly involved in wrongdoing in
Queens, make a call New Jersey. Upon review, the Second Circuit ruled that in such cases, where the
Federal government fabricates a plan to induce someone to act interstate in order to gain federal
jurisdiction in a matter which takes place otherwise wholly within a state or locality, it would be
barred from being able to prosecute. The parallels to Hallorans case couldnt be clearer despite the
trial judges nearly 200 page decision trying to distinguish the cases and trivialize other legal

After a grueling 8 week trial, in July 2014 a jury convicted Halloran of conspiracy to commit bribery,
two counts of wire fraud and two counts of travel violations, a total of five counts. In March Judge
Karas sentenced him to an extraordinary 120 months in prison with restitution of $45,300. That
sentence was well beyond any other similar criminal sentences in any Federal Court related to

political corruption. The sentence for Halloran, with no priors, in a non-violent crime, involving barely
$45,000.00 in alleged money transactions over 9 months, stunned many in the legal community who
expected a 60 month sentence at the outside.

Federal legal practioners could not point to a single similarly harsh sentence, especially one for which
there was no completed crime; and in fact only Assemblyman Brian McLoughlin, convicted of
actually taking over $3.1 million in his many years in office, a 20+ count racketeering indictment, that
included stealing from the local little league, received a comparable sentence of 10 years. NYS
Assemblyman Anthony Seminario, convicted of taking over $400,000.00 received a mere 6 years, and
NYS State Senator Kruger, who accepted and steered over $350,000 in bribes received only 7 years.
The former governor of Virginia, Robert McDonald recently received a 2 year sentence for his part in a
$200,000.00 scheme involving state funds, acting as a state executive. Finally, Bronx born New York
City Council Member Larry Seabrook was convicted just last year and was sentenced to only 4 years,
having diverted over $600,000 in New York City money to not-for profit organizations run by friends
and family, in 9 counts of a 12 count indictment. Halloran is not accused of taking ANY City funds or
causing any to be dispersed unlawfully. The money provided to Halloran came from a wealthy
developer, actually an undercover Federal Agent, and a local real estate speculator turned
government snitch, who was facing his own litany of criminal charges. No city funds were dispersed
and no political favors were ever actually traded in Hallorans case, unlike the many other cases
involving public officials garnering far smaller sentences.

Halloran, who is currently under House Arrest, has a 10 p.m. curfew, and is scheduled to
self-surrender on June 17 unless a federal appeals court grants his application for bail pending the
appeal ruling. Another key issue in his appeal is that the judge gave the jury instructions that would
have been impermissible in state court. His instruction was that even if the alleged scheme could not
happen, impossibility is not a defense in federal court, almost conceding the scheme alleged by the
Government was impossible. However, Hallorans defense team, and some legal experts contend that
the state law bribery charges should have carried with them state law jury charges.

Another significant issue raised both in pretrial motions and now in the appeal is that the federal
government and Court has grossly misinterpreted and misapplied the Wilson Pakula Act of 1947,
calling an otherwise legal transaction a quid pro quo so that prosecutors could obtain a conviction
under federal Honest Services Law. As many attorneys noted, the Federal Honest Services statute has
been under intense judicial scrutiny for being overbroad. In fact the US Supreme Court has already
once ruled the statute Un-Constitutional and Justice Scalia called it a dangerous slippery slope that
could criminalize legal behavior. As Justice Scalia put it in his Skilling dissent, even with the bribery
and kickback limitation the statute does not answer the question What is the criterion of guilt? The
Halloran defense team echoed those sentiments.

Halloran claimed to be brokering a legitimate

political horse trade in which Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith, a conservative Democrat would
be eligible to participate in the Republican primary for the 2013 NYC Mayoral race. The interest of the
NYC Republican leaders in just such a cross endorsement, opening up the Republican Party Primary to
several candidates including Senator Smith and former Bronx Borough President, and fellow Democrat
Aldolfo Carrion, in addition to the 4 declared Republicans (Joe Lhota, who eventually won the
designation, John Catsimitidis, Tom Allen, and George McDonald) was widely reported by numerous
news outlets from April to August of 2012. This was long before the FBI and DOJ leadership targeted
Smith and Halloran for prosecution. Under New York law, a Wilson Pakula is an authorization given
by a political party to a candidate for public office which allows a candidate not registered with that
party to petition voters for ballot access in their primary. New York as a fusion state permits a
candidate to have the support of, and run on, more than one party line on a given ballot.

In his appeal, Hallorans lawyers note there are substantial questions of whether the federal Travel
Act can even be applied to money transactions that were intended to secure a Wilson-Pakula
certificate. The Travel Act forbids the use of the U.S. mail, or interstate or foreign travel, for the
purpose of engaging in specified crimes. In fact, in an Amicus Curiae brief, the Queens County
Republican Party said the federal government unlawfully tied the Wilson-Pakula authorization process
to the Travel Act.

They specifically pointed out that a Wilson-Pakula authorizations is not a

designation, nomination or appointment, and [therefore] it is not within the reach of the state penal
bribery laws.

When a multimillion dollar swindler-turned government informant, Moses Mark Stern, infiltrated
Hallorans campaign for U.S. Congress in August 2012, Court testimony by FBI Agents confirmed that
Halloran was neither under federal investigation nor a suspect in any crime at that time. Essentially,
the government conceded during trial that Halloran was not under suspicion of any wrong doing
whatsoever when they sent informant Stern to meet with him in 2012. Somehow there were no
tapes of those initial meetings. Some legal experts question how they were able to go forward with
any investigation under those circumstances, as it smacked of entrapment at a minimum.

Halloran lost his 2012 congressional bid to Rep. Grace Meng, whose own father and campaign
manager Jimmy Meng was arrested during the campaign and sentenced in March 2013 to a
one-month jail term on an $80,000.00 felony bribery conviction. There was more of a reason to
investigate Mengs campaign for congress than Hallorans" one political insider noted.

Independent Democrat, Queens State Senator, Malcolm A. Smith, was drawn into negotiations with
Stern to petition the Republican Party primary ballot for the 2013 New York City Mayors race,
meeting with GOP State Chairman Ed Cox, who was not accused of any wrongdoing.


approached, as an additional intermediary, Halloran, who is also a former law enforcement officer,
because of his connections in New York City Republican circles as one of the few elected Republicans
in the City.

Because Smith received neither a promise of appointment to a public office, nor a

designation, nor a nomination, there was no quid pro quo, Appellate briefs contend. If the
Wilson-Pakula Travel Act counts were to fail, the discretionary-fund counts would also be subject to
reversal due to the extensive spill-over of evidence from Travel Act charges. said two prominent

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Rockland County Times Dylan Skriloff said the governments key
witness is a huge red flag. Stern who lives in Rockland County is a convicted felon who admitted to
illegally bundling hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates. One such beneficiary of Stern was
NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who was also not accused of any wrong doing by the FBI.
Currently, Stern is facing 490 years in prison on a 24-count federal indictment that includes perjury

charges and a $120 million real estate fraud scheme against Citibank and other local New York
mortgage banks. The reality is Stern needed a scapegoat, said Skriloff.

Wiretaps of Sterns phone calls, produced in late discovery, revealed he was desperately seeking
connections to prominent Republicans and their political campaigns. At trial the names of National
Republican figures like Tim Scott, Allen West, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and local GOP officials
like State Chair Ed Cox, State Senator Marty Golden and Congressman Peter King were on the list of
those targeted by Stern and his FBI handlers. The Government claimed despite this focus on
Republicans that they were not hunting the GOP. Court transcripts further revealed that those same
wiretaps showed Stern had access to other phones and email accounts which were not monitored or
recorded by the FBI. This window also gave Stern the opportunity to communicate and act without
the oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which he apparently did on several occasions and
was reprimanded by his FBI handlers. Interestingly, these facts were only disclosed after the trial had
started and were discovered by the defense while cross-examining an F.B.I. agent who admitted to
the existence of these previously undisclosed government recordings.

What appeared to be a clear Brady disclosure violation was minimized by the trial judge and no
sanction was given to the government for hiding this material in Hallorans case, although the judge
did grant a mistrial to his co-defendants. Halloran, who is the former NY chairman of the Republican
Liberty Caucus and a veteran criminal defense attorney has tried many felony cases in state court
serving for over 5 years on the 18B Assigned Counsel Felony panel, and explained, Brady material
stems from the U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, in which the Court ruled that suppression
by the prosecution of evidence favorable to a defendant who has requested it, violates due process.
While the Court found the material was Brady, it chose to believe the Government when it claimed its
failure to produce it was an accident and overlooked by the 20+ man prosecution team.

Stern introduced himself as a real estate developer with an interest in the mayoral race, said
Halloran. On a hand-shake I agreed to act as a paid legal consultant. It took nine months of
Stern-churning, before the government accused Halloran of unlawfully taking checks and cash in the
aggregate sum of $45,000, he said, thousands of which simply went into his campaign accounts and

not his pocket the government admitted at trial. Some legal experts noted that the judge appears to
have gone out of his way to excuse several incidents of prosecutorial misconduct; as many as 6,000
calls and 900 hours of recorded conversations were withheld, being the largest example, as well as
the gaping holes in the FBIs handling of Stern as an informant which were only disclosed mid-trial.

During trial, the government also admitted it never scrutinized any collateral sources; such as the
not-for-profits allegedly involved, the City Council funding agency, and that they never even wire
tapped any of the alleged co- conspirators, despite their lengthy nine-month investigation. In fact, the
New York City Council finance office and the board members of all of the NFPs testified on behalf of
Halloran that he never attempted to do any of the things alleged by the government, at any time.
Even the government witnesses, Hallorans alleged co-conspirators who turned states evidence like
the Bronx and Manhattan GOP chairmen tacitly disclosed in cross examination that Halloran never
suggested doing anything illegal to them and that they thought it was strictly legitimate business
dealings at the time. The Bronx Chair Jay Savino struck a plea bargain when it was discovered he had
been also stealing from the Bronx County organization and had committed tax fraud, and the
Manhattan chair Dan Issacs was not charged after Billionaire John Catsimitidis intervened on his
behalf before the arrests arranging meetings for him with federal and state prosecutors. During the
trial Issacs said, if Halloran had even suggested that something illegal was going to happen, I would
never have gone to the meeting in the first place.

Some argue that this was a case of selective prosecution an opportunity for the Democrat appointed
on recommendation of Senator Charles Schumer, a former Schumer staffer, U.S. Attorney Preetinder
Singh Preet Bharara to make a name for himself. Such claims gain more weight when you examine
the recent arrests by the same team of Preet Bharata attorneys using the same vague "honest
services" Federal statute. First the indictment of Dean Skelos, the Republican leader of the NY State
Senate which effectively crippled the GOP in its razor thin margin in controlling that body, and then of
NYS Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver, who was Senator Schumer's sole rival for control of the NY State
Democratic Party machine. Questions now being circulated indicate Governor Cuomo may be Preet's
next target and with him, his relationship to the powerful Independence Party, and particularly the
Wilson Pakula he received from them, along with both their ties to the Real Estate Board of New York.

Some also say they may have targeted the Republican Independent Halloran, who was receiving
significant media attention for bucking the system, weighing in against the NY Democratic machine
and in particular Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He had become a Fox News staple appearing
almost 100 times over 4 years. In fact, some political pundits mused an investigation into former NY
Mayor Michael P. Bloombergs various campaigns would be more appropriate. Some may recall that
in 2009 it was front page news that Bloomberg bought the Independence Party line by donating $1
million into its housekeeping account and hiring scores of workers. According to NYC and NYS
Campaign Finance filings, the Mayor, having left the GOP in 2005, in order to secure the Republican
Party line in 2009, hired numerous Republican leaders from each county, paid $25 to $50,000 per
county in jobs, and into Housekeeping accounts, and spent tens of thousands of dollars on jobs for
assembly-district level executive committee members of the GOP, to insure their support. This is no
different on the other side of the aisle, where frequently the Democratic machine hires its own in
campaigns for incumbents and to win over third parties like the Working Families party.

Two term democrat Bronx Council Member G. Oliver Koppel, who also served many years in the NYS
Assembly, was Hallorans colleague in the City Council, and said he was very impressed by Hallorans
independence. Although registered as a Republican and elected as a Republican he often split from
Republican orthodoxy particularly on civil liberties and civil rights issues. Halloran was concerned
about government playing an appropriate role in private life, he said. He was a strong believer of
individual rights. I saw that in his voting record and also in his speaking.

Since Halloran is an attorney familiar with both Criminal and Election law, Koppell said it seemed out
of character that he would be involved in legal problems related to campaign law. Looking at the
issue to some extent in the press, in terms of what Halloran did with Smith who wanted to run on the
Republican Party line, I did not see anything wrong with that. Koppel, who has served as the interim
NY Attorney General, said when he was running for state senate last year, he applied to the Working
Families Party for a Wilson-Pakula authorization. If you want to run in the primary you have to get
permission by the party leaders. With five counties in one city, the rule is a three-county majority
makes the final decision, he said. While it would be inappropriate if a party leader demanded dollars
directly in exchange for the party line, he said there is no problem with hiring those same politicians

as consultants with consulting fees. MANY New York City council members, including Mayor Bill de
Blasio, worked for the U.S. senate campaign of Hillary Clinton while they were council members I am
sure it is not illegal.

Dan Halloran was a hands-on council member, said Liza A. Powell, a Bayside resident. He was there
for everything. She described Halloran as unbelievably kind and good. Halloran knew her and many
of his constituents by their first names, she said. As an attorney he offered pro-bono advice he
literally helped people every day. Halloran was made an example of because he was not politically
correct, she said. Somebody did not want him to succeed he was doing the right thing for New

The Second Circuit has set an expedited briefing schedule but it may be delayed as Halloran's
co-defendants Senator Malcolm Smith and Queen GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone or even State
Senator Skelos and Assembly Leader Silver have their cases wind their way up the appellate ladder as