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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Posted on: 2009/9/9 16:42
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Quote:

jc123 wrote:
Mr. Vega, the "fact" is that you accepted a bribe while serving as an elected official in Jersey City. Do the right thing (this time) and resign from the City Council.
PS--Please stop listening to whoever is feeding you these ridiculous lines to give to the press; they're making you sound even more pathetic.

[quote]
"I will do whatever it takes to clear my name," Vega said. "I'm just glad this is not Salem, Massachusetts, where they burned the witches before putting them on trial, as some people want to get me out of office before hearing all the facts."


Does this mean that after we hear all the facts and he is convicted that we can burn him at the stake??? (figuratively speaking) If he is convicted he should spend years in prison...no bs....IMHO

Posted on: 2009/9/9 4:31
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Hey Vega,


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Posted on: 2009/9/8 21:22
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Mr. Vega, the "fact" is that you accepted a bribe while serving as an elected official in Jersey City. Do the right thing (this time) and resign from the City Council.
PS--Please stop listening to whoever is feeding you these ridiculous lines to give to the press; they're making you sound even more pathetic.

[quote]
"I will do whatever it takes to clear my name," Vega said. "I'm just glad this is not Salem, Massachusetts, where they burned the witches before putting them on trial, as some people want to get me out of office before hearing all the facts."

Posted on: 2009/9/8 16:10
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Here are three relevant articles from the holiday weekend's local coverage:

___________________


EXCLUSIVE:
Was Jack Shaw 'arrested' by feds the day before the actual arrests?

[from "The Jersey City Reporter," September 5, 2009]

July 23 was a significant day in Hudson County as many local politicians were amongst the 44 individuals swept up in a corruption/money laundering sting.

But what if the significant day was the day before?

At least three sources connected to those arrested say longtime politicial consultant Jack Shaw was allegedly "picked up" by FBI agents on July 22 instead.

Shaw died on July 28 in his apartment in downtown Jersey City but the cause of his death is yet to be determined pending an autopsy. Some believe he committed suicide.

Shaw was charged with allegedly taking $10,000 from the government's cooperating witness, Solomon Dwek, for himself. He also allegedly proposed that Dwek pay $10,000 in campaign contributions for the re-election campaign of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy. (Healy has not been charged with any wrongdoing.)

While the media saw Shaw walk out of federal court in Newark on the afternoon of July 23, the sources say that Shaw had allegedly been in the custody of federal agents for nearly a day before, who allegedly tried to convince him to become a "cooperating witness" like Dwek to continue the investigation and ensnare other political officials

But Shaw allegedly was not cooperative, apparently angered by federal agents who were insensitive to his medical condition, as Shaw was a diabetic.

The sources say that Shaw allegedly complained about the agents to other arrested people as they all waited to face a judge on July 23.

When asked about the allegations about Shaw being picked up a day earlier, as well as other questions, Michael Drewniak, spokeperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark would only comment, "Sorry, I cannot answer those questions for you. I am confined to the public record."

While the early arrest of Shaw may be just spectulation, it is worthy to note that multiple sources familiar with the arrests and with City Hall politics also cite July 22 as the day that federal agents allegedly paid a visit to Mayor Healy at City Hall, although very little information has come out about that supposed meeting.

-- Ricardo Kaulessar

_____________________

FBI DROPPED IN
Saw Healy day before sweep

[from "The Jersey Journal," September 5, 2009]

The FBI paid a visit to Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy one day before the July 23 corruption sweep that netted 44 people, the mayor's spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

Although spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill confirmed the visit with the mayor at his City Hall office, she said the mayor refused to disclose what was discussed, citing the ongoing investigation.

Morrill was responding to an article on the "Jersey City Reporter's" Web site, which first reported the visit.

Michael Drewniak, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, refused to comment.

Among the 44 people arrested in the FBI sting were 23 from Hudson County, including seven Jersey City employees.

Many of the officials are charged with accepting bribes from FBI informant Solomon Dwek, who was pretending to be a developer looking for help with zoning approvals.

Healy has not been charged with any crimes, but he has acknowledged meeting with Dwek at least twice, in rendezvous that included Edward Cheatam, a Hudson County affirmative action officer, political operative Jack Shaw, and Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, who served as his campaign treasurer.

The federal complaints allege that Shaw - who died July 28 - Beldini and Cheatam "arranged for others" to provide checks to the campaign of "JC Official 4" with cash provided by the Dwek. Healy has acknowledged he's "JC Official 4," but says he did nothing wrong.

-- Amy Sara Clark

_____________________

Vega will return for City Council meetings

[from "The Jersey City Reporter," September 5, 2009]

Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, one of the 44 people arrested in the July 23 federal govt. money laundering/public corruption case, said on Friday that he plans to return to preside over the City Council at its caucus on Tuesday and the council meeting on Wednesday in City Hall.

Vega, in a short interview, said he "looks forward" to working again with his council colleagues and "doesn't feel nervous" being back out in the public. Vega did not attend the Aug. 12 council meeting because he was meeting with his attorney, Peter Willis, to discuss his case.

Vega was charged with allegedly accepting $30,000 from federal ?cooperating witness? Solomon Dwek, and has been one of the targets of residents, as well as City Councilman Steven Fulop, at recent council meetings who have called for his resignation. There also been calls for the resignation of Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who was named but not charged in the complaints against the 44 arrested, and of City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez due to her residency issues.

Vega said he is still innocent until proven guilty and looks forward to his day in court.

"I will do whatever it takes to clear my name," Vega said. "I'm just glad this is not Salem, Massachusetts, where they burned the witches=2 0before putting them on trial, as some people want to get me out of office before hearing all the facts."

-- Ricardo Kaulessar

Posted on: 2009/9/8 10:51
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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What else is going on is that the developers, politicians, and attorneys have been working with city and state leaders for redevelopment of superfund site areas. There is big money going on here. Occidental oil company bought the Diamond Alkali site in Newark. Other wordwide ones have been coming in, buying up, not cleanin up, and lining the pockets of our State DEP, HEALTH DEPT, AND MORE.

We need to seriously have Newark checked out for corruption for it its the root place of all of this that gave these scoundrels the balls to take it elsewhere in Jersey. They are covering up alot more than prostitution. Prostituation is just the after-effect party of the deeper crimes. Toxins that cause major health issues, selling livers on black market, infliltrating drugs and guns to the hoods, as they use mottos of safety and nurture-is what is going on here.

Whenever you see, creating new jobs and recreation parks-that means corruption, superfund sites not cleaned up, redevelopment to line pockets and then the prostitution rings to serve their lack of balls.

I guarantee way more than caught are involved and they are in various different careers and positions.

All of them should be hogtied, and have their booty whipped in public till they clean up their funk. And any of their spouses-shame on you for marrying a coward and allowing them to further make our lives harder and diritier. Total losers. Money does not, buy class.

Mothabones

Posted on: 2009/9/4 20:36
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy comments on "not guilty" plea by his deputy mayor

[from "The Jersey Journal," September 1, 2009, 6:24 p.m.]

As you may have heard, earlier today Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini pleaded not guilty to charges she accepted bribes on behalf of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy's re-election campaign from an FBI informer posing as a developer who asked for help securing zoning approvals.

It seems that the mayor is backing off of his earlier support of his longtime friend just a bit, saying today:

"She has pleaded not guilty to these charges and it's now in the hands of the Courts and we'll all have to await the resolution of these charges," Healy said.

Also pleading not guilty today was Edward Cheatam, a former Jersey City Housing Authority commissioner, who was charged along with Beldini in the July 23 FBI corruption sweep.

Healy declined to comment on Cheatam.

-- Amy Sara Clark

Posted on: 2009/9/1 23:36
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Two Jersey City officials plead not guilty in N.J. corruption sting

[from "The Star-Ledger," September 1, 2009, 3:29 p.m.]

NEWARK -- Two Jersey City officials pleaded not guilty in federal court in Newark today to conspiracy to commit extortion in connection to July's sweeping public corruption sting.

Leona Beldini, a Jersey City deputy mayor, and Edward Cheatam, a city housing authority commissioner, were arrested along with 42 others in the bribery and money-laundering scandal. They are accused of promising to secure building approvals in exchange for illicit campaign contributions to Jerramiah T. Healy, the city's mayor.

Healy is not charged in the case, which was the largest federal sting in modern New Jersey history.

Beldini, 74, and Cheatam, 61, were the first -- and so far only -- defendants indicted in the case. U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares scheduled their trial for Oct. 26.

During today's brief hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra L. Moser prosecutors said she planned to file a request to delay the trial, citing its massive scope.

But Beldini's lawyer, Brian J. Neary, said he planned to object to the request.

"My client is 74 years old. She can't wait for the government to get ready to try this case on their schedule," Neary said.

-- Joe Ryan

Posted on: 2009/9/1 19:46
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Castagna has worked for the city for 29 years and currently earns $105,164. If approved, his pension would be $60,740 a year, Morrill said.


I gotta get a city job.....

Posted on: 2009/9/1 5:08
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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covetalker wrote:
Jersey City Health Officer Joseph Castagna, under investigation for issuing too many food vendor licenses, puts in retirement papers

[posted by "The Jersey Journal," August 31, 2009, 6:50 p.m.]

Jersey City official Joseph Castagna -- who was charged on July 23rd in the massive FBI corruption sting and is now under investigation by local police

Castagna has worked for the city for 29 years and currently earns $105,164. If approved, his pension would be $60,740 a year, Morrill said.

Castagna will also receive a one-time payment for unused vacation and for 80 percent of unused sick time, said Jersey City Business Administrator Brian O'Reilly. Officials have not finished calculating how much this lump sum will be but said they would release the final figure tomorrow, Morrill said.


-- Amy Sara Clark

_______________

Presumption of innocence duly noted, this story is beginning to produce some strange, unpleasant odors. If earlier news coverage is correct, the pensions of N.J. municipal officials/bureaucrats who are convicted of crimes -- EVEN WHEN RELATING TO THEIR ROLES AS PUBLIC SERVANTS -- are not forfeited, provided they have retired before conviction. Heaven help us...


Real justice would dictate that this money been used to help cover the costs of his trial and incarceration if he were to be convicted.... IMHO

Posted on: 2009/9/1 3:31
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Jersey City Health Officer Joseph Castagna, under investigation for issuing too many food vendor licenses, puts in retirement papers

[posted by "The Jersey Journal," August 31, 2009, 6:50 p.m.]

Jersey City official Joseph Castagna -- who was charged on July 23rd in the massive FBI corruption sting and is now under investigation by local police -- has put in his retirement papers, city officials confirmed

Castagna, a 53-year-old health officer who is being investigated for possibly issuing more food vendor licenses than the city allows, put in his request to retire Aug. 26, according to Jennifer Morrill, a spokeswoman for Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy.

The next day, police seized additional records from his office, police told "The Jersey Journal" last week.

The retirement, which is not yet approved, is slated to be considered at the Sept. 16 meeting of the City of Jersey City Employees Retirement System board, Morrill said.

Castagna has worked for the city for 29 years and currently earns $105,164. If approved, his pension would be $60,740 a year, Morrill said.

Castagna will also receive a one-time payment for unused vacation and for 80 percent of unused sick time, said Jersey City Business Administrator Brian O'Reilly. Officials have not finished calculating how much this lump sum will be but said they would release the final figure tomorrow, Morrill said.

Castagna was arrested by the FBI July 23 and charged with taking a $5,000 payment from FBI informant Solomon Dwek, who was posing as a developer. The health officer was supposed to pass along the money to the campaign of Michael Manzo, a firefighter running for the City Council in Ward B, according to the complaint.

Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey refused to say more on their investigation -- which began Aug. 8 -- because it is an ongoing investigation, but a source familiar with the investigation said that records indicate that Castagna gave out more than 100 additional licenses.

-- Amy Sara Clark

_______________

Presumption of innocence duly noted, this story is beginning to produce some strange, unpleasant odors. If earlier news coverage is correct, the pensions of N.J. municipal officials/bureaucrats who are convicted of crimes -- EVEN WHEN RELATING TO THEIR ROLES AS PUBLIC SERVANTS -- are not forfeited, provided they have retired before conviction. Heaven help us...

Posted on: 2009/9/1 1:55
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Vega wants to hold on to council presidency
[from PolitickerNJ.com, August 27, 2009, 4:13 p.m.]

Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, who was arrested on corruption charges last month, said today that he has no plans to relinquish leadership of the council.

?No, I haven?t gotten to that point yet. I think it?s premature. I think that the idea was that I wanted to kind of temporarily step aside so Peter Brennan could chair it as president pro-tem,? said Vega in a phone interview.

Although Brennan was voted council president pro-tem, the position didn?t work out the way Vega, Brennan and most of the council hoped. The legislation, it turned out, only allowed Brennan to take control of the meetings when Vega was absent, instead of giving him control of the body while Vega dealt with the federal case against him.

Jersey City officials have been quietly applying pressure on Vega to give up the council presidency permanently, though Vega preferred not to talk about it.

?I?d rather keep counsel to myself,? he said.

-- by Matt Friedman

Posted on: 2009/8/28 1:09
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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True, r_p, pay for play will get a much broader audience on Sept. 9th in the evening than it would have gotten tomorrow morning. Of course, the same could have been achieved without canceling the meeting.

Methinks Mr. Vega, et al didn't want to have to sit through another public scolding as they run out the September 5th clock.

Posted on: 2009/8/25 22:30
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Quote:

T-Bird wrote:
Perhaps, r_pinkowitz Perhaps.

But explain this for me:

As you know, city council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month. Whether or not the meeting was scuttled for politically advantageous reasons, not having a second meeting this month does NOT "enable (sic) the residents an opportunity to go to the meeting." There is no meeting. There is no opportunity. The meeting wasn't "moved". It was canceled.

[quote]
r_pinkowitz wrote:

... It was at the request of the public that the meeting was moved to a time slot which enabled the residents an opportunity to go to the meeting. Since the Council meeting, dates and times are set at the yearly reorganization meeting at the beginning of July. The City Clerk was required to notice properly on the change once the council voted and approved the request. This is the reason on the meeting was moved.


I stand corrected, and it was not moved it was cancelled.

The approved Resolution on 8/12/09, cancelled the Caucus scheduled for the morning of 08/24/09 and the Regular Meeting scheduled for the morning of 08/26/09.

The next meetings of the Municipal Council would be on:
Caucus: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 5:30 p.m.
Regular Meeting: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.

Now the 2nd reading for pay to play will be on the September 9th evening session instead of the August 26th morning session.

Posted on: 2009/8/25 22:16
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Perhaps, Pinkowitz. Perhaps.

But explain this for me:

As you know, city council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month. Whether or not the meeting was scuttled for politically advantageous reasons, not having a second meeting this month does NOT "enable (sic) the residents an opportunity to go to the meeting." There is no meeting. There is no opportunity. The meeting wasn't "moved". It was canceled.

[quote]
r_pinkowitz wrote:

... It was at the request of the public that the meeting was moved to a time slot which enabled the residents an opportunity to go to the meeting. Since the Council meeting, dates and times are set at the yearly reorganization meeting at the beginning of July. The City Clerk was required to notice properly on the change once the council voted and approved the request. This is the reason on the meeting was moved.

Posted on: 2009/8/25 21:44
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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T-Bird.....very good question...and to extend the question...If he "could see through" the confidential informant and didn't tell anybody else on Team Healy wouldn't Vega et al be royally pissed at him?

Posted on: 2009/8/25 21:21
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Speaking of Gaughan - did I read that he said he could see through Dwek, that he (Dwek) didn't have the normal approvals and paperwork one would expect to see when accepting a bribe?

Okay - I made up the accepting the bribe part, but how do you go to the newspaper and say such a stupid thing? Bill, why didn't you report Dwek? You could have saved your Team Healy teammates a lot of grief, no?

Quote:

jc123 wrote:
I read that the next City Council meeting will be on Sept.9 at 6:00PM and pay to play will definitely be on the agenda.

It will be interesting to see if Vega shows up (since he blew off the last meeting supposedly preparing his defense).

Hopefully other JC residents will attend the meeting since the time is more convenient and we can show Vega and Gaughan (who's been saying that Dwek was trying to entrap people by "testing peoples' greed" -- what an idiot) that the issue is not off our radar and that Vega and Lopez both must go.

PS -- I can't believe that Lopez was the Grand Marshall of last weekend's Puerto Rican Day Parade in JC. She has NO shame but I guess I should not be surprised by anything anymore.

Posted on: 2009/8/25 21:12
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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I noticed tomorrow's regularly scheduled city council meeting was canceled - bad enough they move them to 10 am, now they don't even bother to have them???? C'mon!!
...


T-Bird,

As you know the Sunshine Laws Open Public Meetings Act has very strict guidelines on noticing. It was at the request of the public that the meeting was moved to a time slot which enabled the residents an opportunity to go to the meeting. Since the Council meeting, dates and times are set at the yearly reorganization meeting at the beginning of July. The City Clerk was required to notice properly on the change once the council voted and approved the request. This is the reason on the meeting was cancelled.

Posted on: 2009/8/25 21:11
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I read that the next City Council meeting will be on Sept.9 at 6:00PM and pay to play will definitely be on the agenda.

It will be interesting to see if Vega shows up (since he blew off the last meeting supposedly preparing his defense).

Hopefully other JC residents will attend the meeting since the time is more convenient and we can show Vega and Gaughan (who's been saying that Dwek was trying to entrap people by "testing peoples' greed" -- what an idiot) that the issue is not off our radar and that Vega and Lopez both must go.

PS -- I can't believe that Lopez was the Grand Marshall of last weekend's Puerto Rican Day Parade in JC. She has NO shame but I guess I should not be surprised by anything anymore.

Posted on: 2009/8/25 20:57
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Wow - I was away the past two weeks and browsing the threads I figured the whole corruption thing had been sewn up. Vega must have been throw out. Healy arrested. Nidia on a plane back home - great! Now we can move on to serious topics like what do you buy at BJ's and how best to unclutter the sidewalk in front of Two Aprons.

Thanks for posting and keeping attention on the issue, Covetalker. Admittedly, corrupt politicians isn't the only news around here but is the story really dead already? After only one month? I noticed tomorrow's regularly scheduled city council meeting was canceled - bad enough they move them to 10 am, now they don't even bother to have them???? C'mon!!

Anyone going to the next meeting on the 9th?? If memory serves, the redeveloper pay-to-play issue should be on the agenda.....

Posted on: 2009/8/25 17:04
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Jimmy King shuts down his Jersey City civic association
from "The Jersey Journal," August 24, 2009, 8:53 p.m.

There will be no more turkeys for Jersey City Ward C senior citizens during the holidays and if there is a problem with a sewer line, a tree or most anything that people need help with, don't look to the Jimmy King Civic Association. Its standard bearer closed down its operations.

King, who was arrested by the FBI last month along with 43 others in a corruption investigation, sent postcards to members of the association informing them of his decision to end it. He said he and his wife, Cookie, will spend more time with his grandchildren. The civic association does not meet in the summer and usually begins its operations in September.

Known for feeding the homeless and providing turkeys for area residents in the holiday's, King and his wife often assisted people with problems involving municipal services. At the civic group's monthly meetings, King often had guest speakers from government agencies or area politicians who would explain available services or changes in laws that may affect them.

In his post card, King wrote the following:

"This is to inform you that we are retiring. We are looking forward to spending more time with our 5 grandchildren. For the last six years we did more together than any other club. If not for your help we could not accomplish what we did. The club is officially closed as of September 2009. My wife and I will truly miss all of you.

"With all our love, Jimmy and Cookie King"

After the May city election, King had a lawsuit filed challenging the residency of the Ward C winner, Councilwoman Nidia Lopez, who was touted as the first Hispanic woman on the City Council. There was apparently growing evidence that she may be the council's first Floridian. King's arrest forced him out of the litigation over Lopez's residency but it was picked up by the third place finisher in Ward C, Norrice Raymaker.

The FBI arrests took the spotlight away from the Lopez case, but it may be returning. City sources say it may be getting difficult to sit Lopez down for a sworn deposition.

-- Agustin C. Torres

Posted on: 2009/8/25 2:18
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Vega resigning as council president achieves nothing if he is still on the council. Much of the political power local politicians have is not from a title but from political capital acquired over years, decades in Vegas' case, of being involved in politics. So if he is still on the council, whomever is council president would be his puppet.

For effective council operation without serious questions being raised about every single vote the council makes, Vega should relinquish the council presidency and his seat on the council while he deals with the federal case alleging that he basically sold his vote on that same council. With his abscense the council could start to reduce his influence, a process that will not happen if he is still on the council in any capacity.

If he got caught smoking weed while he was on vacation in Brazil or in his own back yard, or got a ticket for a DUI, or domestic violence, this would be different as these would be an elected official having problems in his personal life.

However we are talking about being brought up on charges for selling a vote that rightfully belongs to the people who elected him. Any elected official who is in that position really should resign from that elected post as a matter of principle and more importantly for the benefit of the people and locality he represents.

Healy, as colorful as he is with front step full frontal, fight night with cops and rumored drinking problem should not be asked or expected to step down because he is colorful, however if he has similar charges brought against him he should resign.

Anyone on the council or other elected post who is brought up on similar charges should immediately resign, regardless of who they are.

Posted on: 2009/8/20 14:36
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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You don't need to be "convicted of anything" to be removed from office. Just ask the most recent Governors of New Jersey, New York and South Carolina if you need an example. Vega violated the trust of the public that is why he should step down from office.

If your employer thought you had taken a bribe, he'd fire you. That's reason enough, much like a spouse filing for a divorce because she thinks her husband is cheating on her or a teacher accused of molesting a student being immediately removed from the classroom.

The city electorate has no confidence in his abilities to govern. Vega's position remains ineffectual, in part, by his own intentional action. He missed the last council meeting because he had to meet with *his* defense attorney. Evidently, by his own conviction, his job is secondary to working on his defense. Vega could have easily rescheduled the meeting with the attorney he employs so he could attend the Council Meeting to which he presides as President.

Posted on: 2009/8/20 14:11
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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I believe Fulop is saying...if the charges prevent Vega from serving as Council President then the charges should prevent him from serving on council. On a side note I felt the last council meeting went smoothly without Bloody Mary Brennan and deer in headlights Vega.

Posted on: 2009/8/20 14:08
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Quote:

covetalker wrote:
as posted on politickernj.com (8/17/09, 5:04 p.m.):

...
Councilman Steve Fulop, who requested the opinion that resulted in the Matsikoudis memo, is the only council member who has called on Vega to resign his seat ? not just his position as president.

?If you are definitive that you did nothing wrong and you don?t want to resign, then why resign from one position and not the other,? he said. ?Maybe Mariano now thinks he did a little something wrong so he will resign a little bit.?

A call to Vega?s cell phone was not returned.

-- Matt Friedman


It is not clear who is quoted here. Vega should resign, but a sitting council member who insinuates that Vega, who has not been convicted of anything, "did a little something wrong so he will resign a little bit," is irresponsible. Fulop is a good man, but he shouldn't base his assertions on what another person might be thinking. Fulop usually keeps his head above the BS, but he couldn't refrain from taking a bite from the $hit sandwich that is Jersey City politics.

C'mon Steve. You know better.

Posted on: 2009/8/20 12:57
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Tick Tock,Tick Tock

Posted on: 2009/8/20 12:11
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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as posted on politickernj.com (8/17/09, 5:04 p.m.):

Vega might relinquish council presidency

Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, who was arrested last month for allegedly taking $30,000 in bribes from a federal informant, will be in charge of the next council meeting -- if he remains council president.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy has put pressure on Vega to resign from his top post, though nobody expects him to quit his at-large seat altogether.

City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill acknowledged that Healy has met with Vega several times since his arrest, but did not disclose details about their conversations.

?The nature of it is on how to move the city forward governmentally. And that?s really the extent of what we?ll be commenting on,? she said.

The council intended to temporarily remove Vega from the top post by designating Councilman Peter Brennan president pro-tem ? a position that the council had already intended to create but took on new urgency once Vega was arrested. Most council members and government officials were under the impression that Brennan would fill in for Vega while he dealt with his defense.

But in a in a memo to council members, Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis wrote that Vega will maintain control of council meetings as long as he attends them, and that he can not simply delegate the responsibility to Brennan.

The council president makes a slightly higher salary than the rest of the council and temporarily takes over the mayor?s duties in the event of a resignation or death.

Neither Vega nor Brennan, who is recovering from prostate cancer-related surgery, attended this month?s council meeting, over which Councilman Bill Gaughan presided. Both plan to attend the next one on September 9. Multiple City Hall sources say that Vega is considering stepping down as council president on or before then.

Councilman Steve Fulop, who requested the opinion that resulted in the Matsikoudis memo, is the only council member who has called on Vega to resign his seat ? not just his position as president.

?If you are definitive that you did nothing wrong and you don?t want to resign, then why resign from one position and not the other,? he said. ?Maybe Mariano now thinks he did a little something wrong so he will resign a little bit.?

A call to Vega?s cell phone was not returned.

-- Matt Friedman

Posted on: 2009/8/19 23:18
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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And the saga "continuances."

Looks like the (expected) impending indictments against the (allegedly) corrupt politicos -- generally speaking, indictments are required within 30 days of the filing of criminal charges -- might have a little more time to materialize, per the Court's sanction. Here's current coverage from "The Record" of Hackensack:

Ex-mayor gets time to weigh plea deal

Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and his co-defendant in an alleged bribery scheme have been given a 90-day window to review the evidence against them and explore a possible plea-bargain deal, court documents show.

In a series of orders signed this week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo approved continuances for most of the 44 defendants arrested last month in one of the largest public corruption sweeps in state history.

The orders effectively extend the time under which federal prosecutors must bring a defendant to trial.

Under federal law, a defendant has a right to have criminal charges presented to a grand jury within 30 days of his arrest, but typically will consent to one or more continuances to assess the strength of the prosecution's case and consider whether it is to his advantage to cut a deal.

Elwell's attorney, Jeffrey G. Garrigan, said the defense team has yet to review any of the government's evidence against his client, who is accused of accepting a $10,000 bribe though alleged middleman Ronald Manzo from an informant posing as a hotel developer.

"There's been no discussion regarding plea negotiations at all," Garrigan said Friday. "At this point, I don't know exactly what it is that the U.S. Attorney's Office is going to be sharing with us."

Elwell, 64, resigned from office within days of his arrest, asserting his innocence.

"We're waiting to see what their evidence is," Garrigan said.

The judge also granted 60-day continuances in the proceedings against Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith of Jersey City, and Daniel M. Van Pelt, who relinquished his Assembly seat after his arrest, allowing them time to examine evidence and "to undertake any plea negotiations."

Similar orders were granted in the cases of Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega Jr. and Edward Cheatam, a former vice president of the Jersey City Board of Education.

Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez and his co-defendant, Vincent Tabbachino, were granted 90 days "to review the numerous recordings generated" during the investigation, but their order makes no mention of plea negotiations.

Hoboken's former mayor, Peter Cammarano III, was given 60 days to examine the government's evidence, but his order also makes no mention of plea negotiations.

During the two-year probe, a cooperating witness hoping to receive leniency in a bank fraud case posed as crooked developer paying tens of thousands of dollars in bribes for favorable treatment and washing millions of dollars through international money-laundering rings allegedly headed by rabbis in New York and New Jersey.

-- Peter J. Sampson

Posted on: 2009/8/18 15:54
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Re: Several local politicians arrested on corruption charges
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N.J. corruption defendants retain top attorneys
by Ted Sherman and Brian T. Murray/The Star-Ledger
Sunday August 16, 2009, 7:15 AM

Not long after Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano was arrested on corruption charges, he reached out to Joseph Hayden Jr., a former prosecutor and one of the state's top criminal defense attorneys.

When the name of Joseph Doria surfaced in the same ongoing federal corruption and money-laundering investigation, the state Community Affairs commissioner -- who has not even been accused of a crime -- abruptly resigned and retained John Azzarello of Chatham, a one-time Assistant U.S. Attorney and one-time counsel to the 9/11 commission.

And famed New York lawyer Gerald L. Shargel, a tough litigator who defended mob boss John Gotti, was brought in last week to help represent Orthodox Rabbi Saul Kassin, the 87-year-old spiritual leader of the Syrian Jewish community accused of laundering $200,000 through his associated charities.

Resized Image
AP Photo/Mel EvansEx-Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, center blue shirt, leaves the federal court house in Newark July 23 with his lawyer, Joseph Hayden Jr., right, in the tan suit.

The broad series of charges against 44 individuals including three mayors, two state legislators, more than a dozen appointed offices, and five rabbis -- has begun pulling in some of the state's top legal talent.

From the very first afternoon when the initial group of defendants began appearing in shackles in federal court in Newark not three weeks ago, many were already being accompanied by some of the state's most well-known lawyers, a fact not lost on observers like former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, who stopped to see what was going on.

Lawyers for the public corruption defendants

Lawyers for the money-laundering defendants

"I saw all this talent coming up here and into this courtroom, I had to find out what was going on," he said, suggesting it looked like a gathering of the Who's Who of New Jersey's legal community.

Call them big guns or the "go-to" guys, they are the ones who always seem to be on the short list of those to call when one is in serious legal jeopardy.

Among those already in the case include Justin P. Walder, representing Rabbi Edmund Nahum, one of the money-laundering defendants; Henry Klingeman, a former federal prosecutor representing Jersey City political operative Joseph Cardwell; Michael Critchley, representing Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez; and Brian Neary, who represents Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini.

Several were reluctant to talk publicly about why they get called so often.

"It's like asking about the biggest fish someone caught," one demurred.

Hayden, who defended former NBA star Jayson Williams on manslaughter charges, was also reticent. "It sounds presumptuous to talk about it," he said, noting only that both he and Walder have been trying cases for over 40 years and have "a considerable amount of expertise as both prosecutors and defense lawyers."

Shargel's website, quoting a New Yorker profile, proclaims: "Gerald Shargel is considered one of the most brilliant criminal defense attorneys in America..." Still, he was far more reserved when reached by phone.

"Honestly, it's for other people to say, not me," he replied, when asked why he gets the call so often.

A small circle

But John Farmer Jr., dean of Rutgers Law School and the former New Jersey attorney general, said it is not at all surprising to always see the same names in so many of the major federal cases.

"There's a relatively small circle of lawyers who do federal criminal defense work," he explained. "It can be an arcane field. Most lawyers understand federal practice is different, and those who haven't done it will often shy away and refer it to those who do."

For example, the discovery rules -- which mandate what defense attorneys can see of the evidence and witness statements before trial -- are different. The cases are also typically developed over a much longer period of time, making it more difficult to convince a jury of reasonable doubt.

"They are hard cases and the obvious names are all fantastic lawyers who are very good at winning close arguments," Farmer said. "You can't survive in that world where the odds are so stacked against you if you're not a really good lawyer."

They will also be facing some of the top people in the U.S. Attorney's Office. The case is being directed by Brian Howe, deputy chief of the Special Prosecutions Division; he is teamed with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark McCarren, Sandra Moser and Maureen Nakly, all of the Special Prosecutions Division, and David Bocian, the second-in-command and public corruption prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Trenton office.
Officials arrested in corruption ring leave federal court

Gerald Krovatin, who defended former state Sen. Joseph Coniglio (D-Bergen) in a corruption case earlier this year, said federal matters are often far more complex than those in the state courts.

"The trial of these cases is more difficult," explained Krovatin, who is not representing any of the 44 currently facing charges.

The far-ranging corruption case that broke open just two weeks ago will be particularly difficult for the defense before it even begins, Farmer suggested, because the continuing series of federal corruption prosecutions that has swept the state has the public convinced that most of those arrested are guilty.

"There is no presumption of innocence anymore," the law school dean said. "It's a major issue."

The latest case has been called one of the biggest federal sting operations to hit New Jersey. The two-tier investigation targeted politicians and public officials accused of taking bribes. Separately, religious leaders and others were charged in an international money-laundering scheme. And one man was charged with brokering black market kidney transplants.

All the charges were tied together through a single FBI informant, Solomon Dwek, a failed Monmouth County developer facing trial in a $50 million bank fraud. He allegedly lured politicians with payoffs and cash campaign contributions to facilitate purported development deals. According to the criminal complaints, he also laundered more than $3 million in money he claimed to be hiding from his creditors in bankruptcy court, doing so by writing large checks to charitable organizations associated with the rabbis. Dwek would receive the money back in cash, in exchange for a 10 to 15 percent cut of the transaction.

With the case still in the early stages, the players may yet change. Some attorneys concede privately they were asked to provide representation only for the initial court appearances and will not likely remain on board for the long haul. Clients and attorneys also do not always match well. And those defendants who opt for trial may seek a lawyer with a stronger trial background.

Steep price to pay

At the same time, federal criminal defense work does not come cheap, and many of the public officials who were arrested have already lost their jobs and may have little in the way of resources. That became an issue during the trial of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James two years ago, when Raymond M. Brown of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis, who represented James after he was indicted, asked to be removed from the case.

"Sharpe James has advised me ... that his personal funds will not be able to meet the projected budget for the hiring of this law firm," Brown stated in an affidavit. "Continued discussions of this matter have the capacity to erode the lawyer-client relationship and to interfere with providing effective assistance of counsel."

Within hours, James retained Thomas Ashley, another highly regarded defense attorney, to replace the firm.

Farmer said the cost of defense is always a consideration.

"One of the hard parts of doing criminal defense work is being sure you are getting paid," he noted. "Experience shows once the case is over, the incentive to pay pretty much evaporates."

Still, Maria D. Noto of Matawan, former president of the New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said do not assume that those facing charges do not have resources to pay for their defense.

"When people are being charged with a criminal offense, it's like getting hit with a diagnosis that you have a life-threatening illness. They are going to talk to their family and friends and do whatever they can do to get the best possible care," said Noto, whose practice includes federal defense work. "They're probably terrified and will tap into any resources they have -- pensions, savings, 401(k)s, whatever."

Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@starledger.com or (973) 392-4278; Brian T. Murray at bmurray@starledger.com or (973) 392-4153.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009 ... big_sting_the_big_gu.html

Posted on: 2009/8/16 15:16
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Re: Several local politicians arrested on corruption charges
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Guy Catrillo emerges:

read the post on blogcityblog.com

Posted on: 2009/8/15 23:44
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