FBI Agent Posed as Wealthy Investor Named Raj to Snare Pols in Bribery Plot
NEW YORK — An undercover FBI agent who snared Malcolm Smith and other politicians in a public corruption scandal posed as a wealthy investor of Indian descent named Raj who promised to grease wheels into City Hall and beyond, sources said.
Raj, a bald smooth-talking public corruption hunter, was teamed with an unlikely partner, an upstate Orthodox Jew known as "Mo," who was already well known in the New York City and Rockland County political scene.
Raj passed himself off as one of the principals in a company called 2Holding LLC that wanted to build a community center on Spring Valley's Main Street.
Spring Valley mayor Noramie Jasmin, who was arrested Tuesday, introduced them as a "reputable company” that had been "carefully" vetted by her and the village trustees, according to council meeting minutes.
Jasmin's stamp of approval worked: the council voted to approve the project, playing an unwitting role in the FBI probe into Smith's bribe-fueled bid to get on the mayoral ticket.
Raj's partner Mo was in fact Moses Stern, a cooperating witness working for federal investigators. It was Stern who introduced Raj to locals in Spring Valley and nearby Monsey, touting him as a connected player who held sway with Republican leaders.
Raj and Mo then took their show on the road, paving their path with money.
The pair met Smith at a hotel in White Plains in November 2012, where they discussed his mayoral aspirations, which couldn't move forward without the support of Republican county chairmen.
At that meeting Smith asked Stern to convince the person named in the criminal complaint as "County Chairman #1" to back him for mayor. Later that same day Raj met with Halloran in Queens, where he handed him $10,000 in cash.
It was a few days later that Smith met Raj again. The undercover agent promised Smith that he could arrange a meeting for him with "County Chairman 1" and Bronx GOP boss Joseph Savino, in which Raj would convince them to back Smith. Smith's response, according to the criminal complaint: "You pull this off, you can have the house. I'll be a tenant."
A few months later the undercover agent met Smith again, this time in Smith's car in Rockland County. Raj warned Smith that his quest would cost "a pretty penny." Smith replied, "it's worth it. Because you know how big a deal it is."
On Jan. 25, 2013, another undercover FBI agent posing as a courier for Raj delivered $5,000 in cash to Halloran in exchange for Halloran arranging meetings with Savino and Queens Republican party vice-chairman Vincent Tabone.
Raj's targets apparently fell hard for his act as a monied businessman. Tabone demanded $50,000, half before he backed Smith, and the other half after.
Like any courtship, Valentine's Day was an important event for Raj, Stern and the politicians they wooed.
It was on Feb. 14 that both Stern and Raj met with Savino at a Manhattan restaurant — reportedly Sparks Steak House, the site of a Gambino crime family murder. Both video and audio tape show that after the meal, Raj took Savino to his car, where he gave him $15,000 in cash. That same night Raj and Stern met with Tabone, and Raj handed him $25,000 in cash.