Dan Halloran Convicted of Fraud and Bribery

Cara Schulz —  July 30, 2014 — 58 Comments

Former New York City Councilman Dan Halloran was convicted Tuesday on corruption and bribery charges. The jury deliberated for just under an hour and a half to return a guilty verdict on all five counts. Halloran was the highest elected official in the US who is openly an adherent of a Pagan or Heathen religion.

In September 2012, Halloran, along with state Democratic Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith and ex-Queens Republican Party leader Vincent Tabone, was the focus of an FBI sting operation. He was recorded taking payoffs to facilitate a plot to get Smith, a Democrat, on the GOP line for the 2013 New York City mayoral race. Halloran testified during his trial that he expected Smith to appoint him as first deputy mayor.

Halloran says he was trying to uncover corruption when he took the bribes and would have turned evidence over to authorities for investigation. He also said he thought a second bribe was a legal retainer fee for his services to broker meetings with GOP officials.

Dan Halloran

Dan Halloran

Halloran faced a tough campaign in the 2009 election when local press, allegedly instigated by his opponent, outed his religion. His beliefs were often sensationalized by the press, including Village Voice cover art depicting Halloran with a dead sacrificed goat, ceremonial robe and runic cloak. Halloran was at one time a prominent member of the Théodish belief system, a faith that seeks to practice Germanic pre-Christian religion.

Dan Halloran leading a Theodish ritual.

Dan Halloran leading a Theodish ritual.

See Nick Ritter on Theodish Belief
See Nick Ritter on on Dan Halloran’s History Within Theodism

Despite rumors to the contrary, the GOP and Tea Party groups stood by Halloran after his religion was mocked in the press. While he never lied about being a Heathen, Halloran’s initial response to the attention was to downplay his Theodish faith and stress his Catholic heritage in an open letter titled I Believe In God.

I took comfort in my family’s history and our heritage, yet through all of this pain and hardship, I never lost faith in God. Last week, I was attacked for my faith in the Queens Tribune. These attacks happened on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiest time of the year for the Jewish people. Having been raised in a Catholic household that shares its religious roots with the Jewish faith, I was deeply offended that religion would be used for political gain. […]I am a man of faith– and now my faith is under attack by a newspaper working for my opponent. I call on my opponent to disavow the Queens Tribune’s attack on religion. I am running a campaign on the issues.

The tactic, and a possible backlash against Halloran’s opponent for allegedly attacking his religion, worked and Halloran was elected as Queen’s representative on the New York City Council. He went on to a failed bid to the US House of Representatives in November 2012. Just five months later, on April 2, 2013, Halloran was arrested for bribery and corruption. A month later he announced he would not stand for re-election for his City Council seat.

Democratic Senate majority leader Smith and ex-Queens GOP leader Vincent Tabone, alleged co-conspirators with Halloran, face trial in January. Halloran remains out on a $250,000 bond pending his sentencing scheduled for December 12. He faces 45 years in prison.

Follow all Wild Hunt coverage of Halloran here.


Cara Schulz

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Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos.
  • kenofken

    It’s a real stretch to call Halloran the highest elected official who was openly Pagan. He all but completely denied his beliefs and practice once he felt they might not advance him politically. That’s not to disown him simply because he did something embarrassing, but his only religion was his portfolio and pocketbook.

    • James Bulls

      Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.

      • Autumn Windwalker

        All are green? What does that mean?

        • Jason Hatter

          Presumably a reference to money.

  • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

    The man is a Nīðing and ūtlaga.

    • Medeina Ragana

      I’m sorry but could you translate those words? I don’t have a clue as to what they mean. Thanks.

      • WAH

        Honorless and an outlaw.

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        As WAH said, it means he is without honour and has broken the law.

        But it is more than that. He has betrayed the communities he claimed to represent. He turned his back on his duties for selfish reasons. As such, those communities should likewise turn their back on him.

        To be ūtlaga is to be outside the community entirely. His actions place him outside of the bounds of welcome from those he wronged. No longer is he able to claim hospitality.

      • Autumn Windwalker

        Yeah, to be a niding/nothing and utlaga/outlaw is really, really serious. When Heathens being using words like that about someone, it’s ugly. It’s the equivalent of the “shunning” that I think is seen in the Amish community. Heathens take the giving of their word very seriously indeed, and when one breaks one’s given word, one has completely disrupted the foundations of trust. Not good at all.

  • Jessica Orsini

    Well. That was certainly sub-optimal all ways around.

  • WAH

    Remember when he was running for office and all the Pagans on Wild Hunt were like, “yay go Dan!” and several Heathens commented like, “nah, careful guys, he’s a shady dude”? Remember how Pagans wrote those warnings off and didn’t even consider them before throwing their support behind this guy? Yeah, I do.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Actually, I don’t remember it that way at all. I, a Pagan, was cautious about this guy from the git-go, because that’s how I am with even the mildest identity politics of any stripe. Felt better about him when I saw a multiracial group in his grove photo, and very critical of the Village Voice snarking his religion. (A howl at betrayal, too; I was a community journalist in the Seventies and the Voice was one of my shining exemplars.) Neither translates into political cheerleading.

      • WAH

        The group I meant to refer to was “all the Pagans on Wild Hunt who were like, “x” not “all the Pagans on Wild Hunt.” I changed some sentence structure around and messed that up. Sorry for the bad grammar. I actually do remember you being more cautious about it, but there were far more in that thread who took any opposition to their Blind Optomism Parade as just jerkishness.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I changed some sentence structure around and messed that up.Fallen prey to that myself. %-/

        • ChristopherBlackwell

          People can be blinded by hope. Imagine for a moment that he had turned out a honorable politicians if such a thing is possible. We have all gotten tired of the over the top corruption in our government. So we hope, in doing so we may put our hope on the wrong person.

          I am a Wiccan but even I hope for success of Heathens as I would do for any other branch of our various communities.

          Unfortunately Halloran proved unworthy. As Heathens say you are your deeds.

          I suspect we will see others of other community hope for a member of their community in politics and find the same disappointment.

          Meanwhile I don’t find people of different communities trying to support the hopes of each other as a bad thing. Naïvety is not a major crime in my books and we will learn in time.

          • WAH

            “People can be blinded by hope.”

            Particularly when they’re hoping for the wrong thing. People need to wake up, the problem isn’t the people in control it’s *control itself*. The system is fundamentally flawed and isn’t going to be fixed by some political-messiah. But that’s straying into politics…

            “I am a Wiccan but even I hope for success of Heathens as I would do for any other branch of our various communities.”

            You and I have different ideas of success.

            “As Heathens say you are your deeds.”

            Yep, and Heathens tried to warn everyone else that he was shady. Very few listened and now the rest are disappointed.

            “I suspect we will see others of other community hope for a member of their community in politics and find the same disappointment.”

            As long as they keep hoping for the wrong thing, then I’d say it’s a certainty.

            “Meanwhile I don’t find people of different communities trying to support the hopes of each other as a bad thing.”

            No that isn’t a bad thing, but we tried to convey to you all that this *wasn’t* something our community hoped for.

            “Naïvety is not a major crime in my books and we will learn in time.”

            Refusing to consider warnings isn’t just naivete, it’s willful ignorance. And ye know, I’ve seen Pagans repeat the same mistakes over and over again, so maybe more of you guys should get on with the learning part already. It’d do you all a world of good.

          • thehouseofvines

            I’m torn on this.

            On the one hand, it’s hard to believe anyone ever thought Halloran was trustworthy, as I could tell he was slimy as shit from the first photo I saw of him.

            On the other hand, I think part of the reason neopagans didn’t believe you guys is because it was coming from Heathens. Y’all are a contentious lot and batshit crazy smear campaigns are de rigueur, particularly if said person is part of a group on the margins of the community.

            Guess you can either tone down the rhetoric or get used to playing the role of Kassandra.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Heathenry is innately tribal, I agree. I think that is because there are so many forms of it, with varying levels of reconstructionism.

            Some embrace the idea of taking inspiration from the past, but completely updating it to “mesh” with their modern world view, whilst others call them on their MUS.

            This, in turn leads people to call the hardcore recons arrogant and trying to force their views on others.

            Then there are the Marveltru, Brosatru and Nazitru…

          • thehouseofvines

            Hellenismos ain’t much better. Worse, in fact, since lacking the numbers of Heathenry the schisms have completely arrested any kind of forward momentum the community once had.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            That sucks.

          • thehouseofvines

            They’re slowly making progress. At the PLC representatives from Hellenion, Neokoroi, thiasos of the Starry Bull, and YSEE (as well as a bunch of unaffiliated Hellenics and even a Roman polytheist) sound down to talk strategy and how to get local stuff going. No one got yelled at or threatened with violence so I count that as progress!

          • WAH

            “Guess you can either tone down the rhetoric or get used to playing the role of Kassandra.”

            That’s a fair point, though their is something to be said for not blindly pinning your hopes behind someone you don’t know too. (General “you,” not you specifically)

          • thehouseofvines


            You don’t get that high up in the food chain unless you’re a politician first and everything else second. And then people get all surprised when politicos act like … politicos.

            (And just to be clear my “you” above was also a general you – had I been warning neopagans at the time I’d be saying “I told ya so” too.)

          • WAH

            Yep, and he was a *lawyer* that became a politician, too. That’s like…double obvious.

          • thehouseofvines

            No shit. I saw his picture and made a snap judgment that the guy was untrustworthy. Then I heard about his background and I was fairly certain that it was just a matter of time til controversy oozed out. And then I read all the shit he’d gotten up to in the Heathen and Theodish communities and sat back waiting for the show, because it was going to be a good one. Mind you this was all waaaay back when he was first starting to get some major coverage. The more the neopagans backed him, the more amused I got.

            My biggest disappointment with the whole thing is that taking bribes is pretty tame as far as such things go. I want dead hookers and transvestitism and ties to terrorist groups and plans to set up his own micronation dictatorship in New Jersey or it’s hardly worth noticing.

          • WAH

            Yes, that would have been way funnier. Of course, there was the prostitution ring that two *other* members of the Normanni got busted for, but I can’t find the post I got that from.

          • thehouseofvines

            It was reading about that that got my hopes up.

          • Wolfsbane

            Hey, if he wasn’t so inept that he got caught the first time he asked for a bribe, I’m sure Dan would have fulfilled your expectations and made it to the big time. 😉

          • kenofken

            I don’t know that many pagans supported Halloran personally or politically. None of us outside of New York had any real stake in his election nor any particular responsibility to evaluate his fitness for public office. When he first made the news feeds, I’ll admit, I thought it was pretty cool that a pagan would stand for election in that fashion. His election also gave me a measure of hope that perhaps we’re moving past the unofficial religious test for office in this country. I didn’t know anything about the guy personally or politically, and I certainly never elevated him to the level of some messianic figure or celebrity.

            Hindsight is a worthless commodity. On what possible basis can we be faulted collectively for not taking your “warnings” about Halloran in the early days? We don’t even know who you are. Almost none of us in the wider community had, or now have, any personal dealings with any of you or Halloran. We certainly don’t have the inside scoop on the politics and personalities of the Theodish scene in which Halloran moved in those years.

            As a former journalist, I can say that it would take me a minimum of a dozen interviews to even begin to present a balanced account. It takes historians decades to sort this stuff out properly, and that’s when they have lots of written record to go on. What did it mean that some Heathens in the region didn’t like Halloran going way back? Anyone with any standing in any corner of the pagan community has detractors and enemies. If you talk to the right (or perhaps wrong) person, every one of us is the worst backstabbing, manipulative, egoist (fill in the blank) son of a bitch who ever lived.

            Halloran pretty well revealed himself over time. It’s also clear from his early all-but-denial of his pagan identity that he didn’t build his career to any significant degree on pagan support or naivete.

          • WAH

            “I don’t know that many pagans supported Halloran personally or politically.”

            He certainly had his defenders in the Wild Hunt threads, all of whom were people who didn’t know him.

            “On what possible basis can we be faulted collectively for not taking your “warnings” about Halloran in the early days?”

            I would say on the basis that you “don’t even know who you are. Almost none of us in the wider community had, or now have, any personal dealings with any of you or Halloran.”

            You then say: “What did it mean that some Heathens in the region didn’t like Halloran going way back? Anyone with any standing in any corner of the pagan community has detractors and enemies.”

            But here’s the thing: Halloran wasn’t just some contentious figure, there was literally *no one* defending him who actually knew him. It wasn’t a case of some people hate him, some people like him. It was a case of him being pretty much universally hated in his own former community. If I put myself personally in that position I gotta think, “Ok, A.) I don’t know this guy or anything about him or his community B.) everyone from his community has bad things to say about him and nothing good to say,” and then come to the conclusion to *at least* be cautious about the guy. Instead of considering the situation, though, too many Wild Hunt readers wanted to throw a Pride Parade instead. Blame it on “Heathen contentiousness” all you want, but there’s still an element of “lack of Pagan discernment” in the situation.

            Look, I’m not saying Pagans should be beating themselves up for internet comments that turned out to be willfully ignorant. I’m just saying it should be a learning experience so the same thing doesn’t happen over and over and over ad nauseum.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I think that the political question is actually a very good one.

            Heathenry seems, to me, to be very much suited to being intertwined into the political process – after all, if we look at the world view, it was less compartmentalised and the Archeo-Heathens way of life was very much informed by their beliefs. There was no distinction between religion and law. Indeed, in the early Germanic societies, the tribal chieftain and the priest were the same thing.

            I do not think, however, that the Heathen world view is particularly compatible with the modern, Western world view. It’s an either/or, not both.

          • WAH

            Agreed. Heathenry lends itself easier to direct action than cooption, in my opinion.

          • Autumn Windwalker

            I agree with the first part of your comment, but not the second.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Then we see things differently. No big deal.

    • Autumn Windwalker

      I thought most pagans were shocked that he ran as a Republican, and that he was conservative. I think most pagans were quite confused as to how on earth a pagan could be conservative at all.

      • WAH

        That was certainly some of the sentiment, there was also some feeling that he shouldn’t be discounted based on party or ideological lines.

      • Tasman

        It is perfectly possible to be a conscientious conservative and a pagan or Heathen.

    • Franklin_Evans

      WAH, this tangent from your post is excellent. Thank you for driving it with insightful And civil criticism.

      • WAH

        Thanks for the compliment, I do try not to be *too* much of a jerk. 😉

        • Franklin_Evans

          Balance is important, says this card-carrying curmudgeon. 😀

  • Pitch313

    Halloran, the way I figure it, was a New York City politician far more than a Pagan in NYC politics. It isn’t clear from a distance just how good or bad he did for his constituents day to day. (FWIW, I don’t vote for candidates or support office holders because they follow this religion or that one.)

    Yes, he took some bribes. Politicians will. Even otherwise good politicians. And I always wonder about “FBI sting operations” unerringly netting only the crooks and never the bystanders.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I always wonder about FBI stings as productive use of the agents’ time. J Edgar was never interested in organized crime, always going after the low-hanging fruit and his own paranoid fantasies. I wonder how much the agency has evolved since he passed.

      • kenofken

        We accept corruption as an inevitability and take the attitude that “politicians will be politicians.” The problem with that is that corruption is it’s own accelerant, and it completely destroys societies and political systems where it is allowed to run rampant.

        If you look at all of the broken down hell-hole countries in the world today – the Central American ones sending waves of refugees to us, Nigeria, the Middle East, Russia and the vast majority of the former Soviet states, you find that massive corruption is the unifying factor among all of them. You see huge capital and intellectual flight from these places, staggering poverty and extremism, and virtually nothing in the way of innovation or cutting edge anything in these places.

        Corruption suffocates and completely dis-incentivizes hard work, creativity, investment or progress of any kind. It rigs the entire system so that it does not work for 99% of the people and rewards only those vicious or well placed enough to steal.

        Petty corruption may seem just that – petty, but it’s implications are worth taking very seriously.

        • Pitch313

          Honestly, I don’t have a good response to the matter of corruption in politics. Except to suggest that we humans do things the ways humans do things. And that we don’t do things perfectly. We like to get the fix in.

          I mean, Paganism has politics. That ain’t always pretty. And Pagan politics is probably nowhere near as high pressure as New York City or State politics…

        • Wolfsbane

          Obviously you’ve never been to New York.

      • Wolfsbane

        Hey, nobodies as low hanging as Halloran. It’s a shame Dan wasn’t observant and didn’t notice the federal government plates on their car. Well, and the ‘FBI’ painted in the sides of their car in big yellow letters.

    • WAH

      “Yes, he took some bribes. Politicians will. Even otherwise good politicians.”

      So why the Hel should we have politicians?

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    Libertarian, wasn’t he?

    • NeoWayland

      At one time he said he was. I’m pretty sure he identified more as a Republican though. According to some of the rumbles I’ve heard, he might not have been telling the truth.

      I wouldn’t call anyone a Republican and a Libertarian, but then, that’s me, a small “l” libertarian.

    • Autumn Windwalker

      I thought he ran as a Republican.

  • Raksha38

    This whole thing is gross and fuck all these skeezeball politicians.

    Somehow I never cease to be surprised and peeved about just how freaking cheap politicians are to buy. Like, you’re willing to completely stab your constituents in the back and undermine the integrity of our political system for a measly $15k??? Aim higher, asshole!

    • Daniel FitzGerald

      It was more than that, IIRC. I believe he was also caught trying to rig the NYC mayoral election.

      • Raksha38

        Ah, you’re right. I just re-read that article and it was 15k that he accepted from the FBI agent and an arrangement for 20k later. Still, for doing that kind of bullshit, 35k is chump change. My point stands!

  • Gabe

    Everyone is tore up over a $15k bribe? An earmark is the same thing as a bribe, only it’s a bribe right out in the open. Vote for this bill for me and I will use tax payer money to buy you a…. O hell what do you want? A $223 million dollar bridge to nowhere? A $500k teapot museum? How about we use the same amount of $15k to get mice drunk at Florida Atlantic University! Can anyone say Haliburton?

    • Rhoanna

      Earmarks aren’t bribes, they’re favors paid by politicians to their supporters. Bribes are money given to politicians by people who want something.

      • And the difference, is, exactly….?

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Direction of cash flow, if would seem.

  • Wolfsbane

    I’ve met Halloran personally and as far as I’m concerned he’s always been a crook and scumbag. This just puts the official imprimatur upon it.

    I was a pubmoot a couple of years before he ran for office which Halloran attended. One of the scumbags from his Theod bragging about how one of his relatives had ‘heroically’ been in the Schutzstaffel and died on the eastern front. Dan did and said absolutely nothing about it.

    His conviction just made my year. I’m hoping Halloran gets sentenced to the whole 55 years he could receive.