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44 arrested in massive Federal corruption sweep July 23, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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Today is a huge day for politics, New Jersey and criminal justice.  44 people have been arrested by Federal Authorities on charges of political corruption and money laundering.  This does not seem to be a small time case either.  All stories indicate that this is a high-volume case that may likely expand beyond the 44 people that have been charged.  In other words, it could be one of the most serious public corruption cases in New Jersey’s history.

The case started as a bank fraud case against a member of the Syrian Jewish community in Deal, N.J.   That man became a federal informant and posed as a crooked real estate developer offering cash bribes to obtain government approvals and in the end, it apparently ensnared a lot of people.  

Just some of the people arrested include:

— Peter Cammarano III, the newly elected mayor of Hoboken and an attorney, charged with
accepting $25,000 in cash bribes, including $10,000 last Thursday, from an undercover
cooperating witness.

— L. Harvey Smith, a New Jersey Assemblyman and recent mayoral candidate in Jersey City, charged along with an aide of taking $15,000 in bribes to help get approvals from high-level state agency officials for building projects.

— Daniel Van Pelt, a New Jersey Assemblyman, charged with accepting a $10,000 bribe.

— Dennis Elwell, mayor of Secaucus, charged with taking a $10,000 cash bribe.

— Anthony Suarez, mayor of Ridgefield and an attorney, charged with agreeing to accept a $10,000 corrupt cash payment for his legal defense fund.

— Louis Manzo, the recent unsuccessful challenger in the Jersey City mayoral election and former state Assemblyman, and his brother and political advisor Robert Manzo, both with taking $27,500 in corrupt cash payments for use in Louis Manzo’s campaign.

— Leona Beldini, the Jersey City deputy mayor and a campaign treasurer, charged with taking $20,000 in conduit campaign contributions and other self-dealing in her official capacity.

— Eliahu Ben Haim, of Long Branch, N.J., the principal rabbi of a synagogue in Deal, N.J., charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity.

— Saul Kassin, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the chief rabbi of a synagogue in Brooklyn, New York, charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity.

— Edmund Nahum, of Deal, N.J., the principal rabbi of a synagogue in Deal, charged with money laundering of proceeds derived from criminal activity.

While not yet arrested, Federal authorities also searched the office and home of Joseph Doria who is the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.  Doria previously served a the Democratic mayor of Bayonne for nine years and represented Hudson County in the State Senate.

This case is going to create a lot of work for many lawyers in New Jersey.  These defendants have to make sure that these lawyers 1) know what they are doing, 2) have a plan and 3) have the time and ability to make it happen.  Of course, the clients just need one thing:  money as it is going to take a lot of it to dig them out from the whole that they are in.

A lawyer really needs to put life on hold (including weekends) at the moment and dig into this case right away.  You need to determine if your client has any real exposure here.  Then, you need to determine if any of these 44 people can flip on your guy.  If so, its a race to see who can be first in the door for the best deal.  If any of them have a lawyer that doesn’t know how to break down a case quickly but completely, they will either wait and thus get a bad deal or quickly sell out for a bad deal. 

I suggest that as many of the lawyers on this case get together so that everyone is on the same page.  I want to know who is saying what about my client.  I also would want to look into entrapment issues and wiretaps and other recordings. 

Should be very interesting to watch this play out.

Numerous stories from the Star Ledger are here.

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Comments»

1. pobept - July 23, 2009

I see little here that most citizens did not know or at least suspect was going on in city, county and state elected officials office behind closed doors!
Hope they bring the full force of the law down on these accused criminals!

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