Imprisoned Noramie Jasmin loses appeal of bribe-taking conviction

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Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin must serve out her four-year federal prison sentence for taking bribes

Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin must serve out her four-year federal prison sentence for taking bribes

Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin is staying in prison after a federal appeals court denied an appeal of her bribe-taking conviction in April 2015.

Jasmin, a Democrat-elected Spring Valley official for more than a decade and mayor from 2008 to 2013, is serving a four-year sentence that started in February 2016 for corruption after selling her vote on a proposed community center and catering hall.

She demanded $5,000 and 50 percent interest in the fictional business, a product of a sting operation involving a corrupt Monsey business and undercover FBI agents.

A federal judge convicted her of mail fraud and Hobbs Act extortion.

 

U.S. District Court Justice Colleen McMahon found, after a five-day bench trial, that Jasmin had taken cash and an ownership stake in the project pitched by Monsey developer, Moses Mark Stern, who was working as an undercover FBI operative. Stern became an operative to work off his mortgage fraud crimes undercovered by the Rockland District Attorney's Office.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected her grounds for dismissing her conviction and sentence.

She claimed:

  • the government's reliance on a mailing not listed in the indictment to support its mail fraud charge constituted a constructive amendment or a prejudicial variance to the indictment.
  • the evidence presented at trial was insufficient as a matter of law to support her convictions.
  • she was denied effective counsel at trial, a violation of her Sixth Amendment right.

The panel found the mailing furthered Jasmin’s community center scheme, satisfying the "use of the mail" element of mail fraud, the panel wrote in its decision released Monday. The District Court expressly found the government had “proved the mailing charged in the indictment," the panel ruled.

Overall, the appeals panel ruled "more than ample evidence was presented to support conviction."

The panel rejected Jasmin's claims she received ineffective counsel when her attorney failed to attack the mailing.

"Jasmin’s ineffective assistance claim, which rests on her assertion that defense counsel did not investigate and attack the Oct. 25 Mailing, is meritless beyond any doubt," the panel wrote.

The panel found that the extortion conviction is legal because Jasmin acted to take cash for her vote and demanded a share of the business, even if the offer was initiated by the FBI undercover agents.

Prosecutors called Jasmin's crimes "egregious," arguing in their sentencing memorandum that Jasmin not only demanded bribes but paid for naming the shell company, using a relative's name and Social Security number. She also tutored Stern and two phony FBI competitors on how to act and answer questions before the Board of Trustees.

Former Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret also got snared by Stern for taking a $10,800 bribe involving the same project. McMahon sentenced Desmaret to three years in prison in June 2015.

Joseph Desmaret and his lawyer, Deborah Wolikow-Loewenberg before sentencing to prison for bribery (Photo: Frank Becerra/The Journal News)

Joseph Desmaret and his lawyer, Deborah Wolikow-Loewenberg before sentencing to prison for bribery (Photo: Frank Becerra/The Journal News)

Unlike Jasmin, Desmaret pleaded guilty and faced a maximum of seven to nine years in prison.

Federal officials utilized Stern in several investigations as the developer worked off potential prison time for a $126 million ripoff of CitiGroup on a deal to build 11 shopping centers and mortgage fraud on Remsen Avenue properties in Rockland County. The Rockland District Attorney's Office sent both scams to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Stern was involved bribing New York City officials and Republicans in a scam involving state Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, seeking the GOP nomination for mayor. He also provided campaign donations in the city and Rockland, including in a Rockland Family Court race.

Stern remains free after pleading guilty to federal charges and going undercover for the FBI.