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Media Alerts - United States v. Halloran - Second Circuit
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April 29, 2016
  United States v. Halloran - Second Circuit
Headline: Second Circuit Affirms Former City Council Member's Bribery Conviction and Jail Sentence

Area of Law
: Criminal Law; Fraud

Issue(s) Presented:
Whether there was sufficient evidence to find that a former member of the New York City Council acted with the requisite intent in accepting bribes.

Brief Summary: Daniel J. Halloran, a former member of the New York City Council, was found guilty by a jury of participating in two bribery schemes. In the first scheme, he was found to have accepted bribes in exchange for promising to funnel city funds to the bribe payers. In the second, Halloran was found to have paid to help his co-defendant, Malcolm A. Smith, bribe Republican Party officials to obtain what is known in New York as a Wilson-Pakula certificate or authorization, which would have enabled Smith, a Democrat, to compete for the nomination of the Republican Party in the New York mayoral election. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a conviction judgment on two counts of wire fraud, two counts of violating the Travel Act, and one count of conspiracy to commit both substantive offenses. Halloran was sentenced to 120 months' imprisonment. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.

To read the full opinion, please visit:

Extended Summary: Daniel J. Halloran was a Republican member of the New York City Council representing the 19th District in Queens. The charges against him resulted from an investigation by an undercover FBI agent, who went by the name Raj, and a one-time aspiring real estate developer with ties to the Orthodox Jewish community, who was working with the FBI pursuant to a cooperation agreement. Under the first scheme, they bribed Halloran to divert $40,000 to $80,000 in member items (discretionary funding that is available to City Council members for distribution to nonprofit organizations in their districts) to a fictitious entity purportedly controlled by Raj.

The second scheme dealt with the New York mayoral election. Under New York's Wilson-Pakula law, a candidate seeking the nomination of a party of which he is not a member must obtain the consent of the appropriate party committee - an authorization known in the New York political world as a "Wilson-Pakula" - before filing a designating petition allowing him to compete in the primary election. Malcolm Smith, a Democratic state senator, was weighing a run for mayor of New York. Because the field of Democratic mayoral candidates was crowded, he was contemplating running as a Republican. Halloran was paid to help Smith bribe Republican Party officials to obtain the Wilson-Pakula authorization.

Halloran challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions for the first scheme arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that he acted with the requisite intent. The Court of Appeals found, however, that Halloran had not identified any evidence that conclusively rebutted the most natural inference to be drawn from his dealings with the FBI agent: that he intended to arrange for them to obtain discretionary funding. Rather, the court found the evidence adequately supported that inference and the jury was entitled to disbelieve evidence to the contrary.

Halloran also challenged his conviction of violating the Travel Act by participating in the Wilson Pakula Scheme. A Travel Act conviction based on bribery requires an underlying violation of a federal or state bribery statute. The Second Circuit rejected this second challenge because, it said, Halloran's actions violated the New York State bribery statute. Finally, the Second Circuit rejected challenges to the Travel Act conviction raised by Halloran based upon constitutional vagueness and First Amendment grounds and, thus, affirmed the judgment of the district court.

To read the full opinion, please visit:

Panel (if known): Circuit Judges Calabresi, Lynch and Lohier

Argument Date: 1/26/2016

Date of Issued Opinion:

Docket Number:
No. 15-996-cr

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Nigyar Alieva

Counsel: Jonathan I. Edelstein, Edelstein & Grossman, for Defendant Appellant; Daniel J. Halloran, pro se; Jessica Feinstein (Karl Metzner, on the brief), Assistant United States Attorneys, for Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, for Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Judge Lynch

2nd Circuit

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Elyse Diamond Moskowitz

    Posted By: Elyse Diamond @ 04/29/2016 07:24 AM     2nd Circuit  

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