Tag Archives: FBI

So a Rabbi, a Mayor, and a Real Estate Developer Walk Into a New Jersey Diner……..

Bookmark and Share   After that, all hell breaks loose as on the morning of July 23rd, over 200 federal agents swept across New York and JerseyCorruptionNew Jersey to round up 44 miscreants who were fire inspectors, city planning officials, utilities officials, real estate developers, political operatives, philanthropists, rabbi’s, assemblymen, mayor’s and gubernatorial cabinet officials.

Years of criminal investigation culminated in the discovery of a tangled web of corruption that included the laundering of tens of millions of dollars through Jewish charities controlled by rabbis in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Deal, N.J., the trafficking of kidneys and fake Gucci handbags and tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to public officials that were meant to get approvals for buildings and other projects in New Jersey.

The key to the arrests was Solomon Dwek, a 36-year-old religious-school head and philanthropist from Monmouth County, N.J., who became a cooperating witness after being charged with defrauding PNC Bank by writing a bad check for $25 million in 2006.

From that point on Dwek was wired, videotaped and followed by F.B.I. agents in a plot straight out of The Soprano’s. On those F.B.I. recordings are such gems as Mr. Dwek stating to one money-launderer that he had “at least $100,000 a month coming from money I ‘schnookied’ from banks for bad loans.” In another tape Dwek is seen giving another coconspirator a box of Apple Jacks cereal stuffed with $97,000 cash for a few political favors in return.

Some of the most high profile thugs rounded up were the New Jersey mayors of Ridgefield, Secaucus and Hoboken, Jersey City’s deputy mayor and two state assemblymen.

A former state senate leader and now member of New Jersey Governor Corzine’s cabinet was also implicated and forced to resign after F.B.I officials searched his home in connection to the still unfolding scandal.

All but one of the officeholders are Democrats. The lone Republican is Dan Van Pelt, a double dipping, dual office holder who serves as the mayor of Ocean Township, NJ. and an assemblyman in the state legislature. Republicans throughout the state called for his immediate resignation from both public offices. A call to his office for a reaction was answered by a woman who calmly said “Mr. Van Pelt was arrested today and is out of the office.”

Now that’s New Jersey!

The most conspicuous of all to have been rounded up so far is the Democrat mayor of Hoboken, Peter Cammarano.

Cammarano just took office on July 1st after winning a cantankerous runoff election and despite the efforts of those officials in Hoboken who have not been arrested, Cammarano refuses to resign. After all he just got the job.

On tape, Mr. Cammarano was caught accepting $25,000 in cash bribes from Solomon Dwek in exchange for expediting zoning changes and pushing through approval of building plans. After the money exchanges hands he tells Dwek “you can put your faith in me” and that “I promise you…you’re gonna be, you’re gonna be treated like a friend.” But along the way other embarrassing statements are overheard. At one point, while talking about his chances of winning what, at the time, was his upcoming mayoral race, Cammarano’s cocky bravado compelled him to declare “right now, the Italians, the Hispanics, the seniors are locked down. Nothing can change that now. . . . I could be, uh, indicted, and I’m still gonna win 85 to 95 percent of those populations”. In another very Mafioso-like moment, Cammarano is caught talking about payback for those who were not with him in the election.

None of this is helping Governor Corzine or the image of Democrats who lined up behind the new Hoboken mayor as he was sworn into office. There, U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez as well as Governor Corzine proudly embraced the 32 year old rising Democrat star with warm embraces and glowing praise.

The whole situation has produced an incredibly embarrassing state of affairs for Corzine who ran New Jersey into the ground after taking office almost four years ago and, among other things, promised to quash corruption. After seeing more than 130 public officials plead guilty or get convicted of corruption since 2001, the arrest of 43 Democrats and 1 Republican, at one time, has proven that Corzine did little to achieve that goal.

Like everything else he promised, including getting the state budget under control, Corzine has been a disastrous failure and this monumental size corruption spectacle just hammers that point harder than ever.

But aside from the increased sour impressions that this newest saga creates, is has disabled a a good portion of the Hudson County Democratic political machine and severely handicapped Corzine‘s chances to win reelection with his major campaign theme which consists of repeating Barack Obama’s name and reminding people that he belongs to the same party that the President belongs to.

Hoboken is one of the largest cities in Hudson Country and Corzine’s home town . Hudson County is one of the most heavily Democrat counties in the state and is the crown jewel of the Governor’s base of support and source of the political engine that runs Corzine’s Get-Out-The-Vote operation.

In this recent historic corruption sweep, 19 of those rounded up were Hudson County officials and operatives. All of which were gearing up to pump out the vote for Corzine in November.

Now they are otherwise occupied in criminal court.

One of these 19 is Jack Shaw, a professional politician that has strong ties and influence with unions on Corzine‘s behalf. Another arrested member of the Corzine cabal is Joseph Cardwell, an operative famous for his coordination of African-American voters, a vote so crucial to Corzine‘s reelection that, without success, he begged the new rising political star, Cory Booker, an African-American mayor of New Jersey‘s largest city, to be his Lieutenant Governor.

All of this has placed the decapitated head of a horse on the pillow of Corzine’s deathbed reelection effort that signifies things to come.

The Governor is already running about ten percent behind his chief rival, Republican Chris Christie, and the prevalent political corruption that has been flourishing among Corzine’s political network is neatly countered by the fact that as the state’s former U.S. Attorney, Chris Christie is the most high profile and successful crime buster that New Jersey’s has ever seen. This naturally compensating aspect of Chris Christie’s candidacy is just another nail in Corzine’s political coffin. That and the fact that you have key Corzine campaigners handcuffed, record high unemployment, a decimated business environment and the highest tax burden in the nation, all adds up to his defeat in November.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that the 44 recent and dramatic malfeasances that were linked together and exposed on just one sunny, summer, New Jersey morning, have officially made New Jersey the most politically corrupt state in the nation. It has also made it very clear that New Jerseyans can not trust anyone in government who asks for their support or whom they seek assistance from or discuss issues with. And to make matters worse, this criminal investigation is still ongoing. I fully expect Governor Corzine to, at some point, be implicated himself, for tampering with the case and trying to have the arrests delayed until after the election when news of the scandal could not effect his chances for reelection.

The whole ugly, unfolding, situation is simply a travesty and cry for change. Not just in New Jersey but in politics and public service in general. It makes it quite obvious that something has to give here and it can’t be the voters. They have already given too much in freedom, taxes, patience and quality of life.

But that assessment begs the question, what must give? What must and can we do? It also leads one to wonder if the systemic corruption that exists in public service is simply a byproduct of politics or is it beyond politics and just a part of human nature?

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New Jersey Star Ledger Makes It Official

Bookmark and Share   Today I awoke and began my morning ritual which ends with a second cup of coffee and a review of the news.

U4PapersOne of my first stops on this morning “catch up” of events is The Star Ledger, one of New Jersey’s largest daily newspapers and one that I write guest editorial for. Of course since newspapers are becoming more and more obsolete, I check out the online version of this daily periodical. This morning, as the Star Ledger downloaded on my laptop screen I saw the bold headline “N.J. officials, N.Y. rabbis caught in federal money laundering, corruption sweep”.

I figured, “oh Lord, here we go again” another example of political corruption in one of the most politically corrupt states in the nation”.

As I read on, the story began:

“NEWARK — A New Jersey assemblyman and the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus were among public officials arrested this morning by FBI agents in an international money laundering and corruption probe that includes rabbis in the Syrian Jewish communities of Deal and Brooklyn.

Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega are among those already brought to the FBI building in Newark. Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini has also been arrested.”

After reading the second paragraph I suddenly lost track of the scandal which was the main thrust of the headline and article.

I was taken back by the fact that of the five elected officials at the focus of the account only one had his party affiliation identified, Assemblyman Dan Van Pelt.

The Mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, and the Deputy Mayor and Council President of Jersey City are all Democrats but Van Pelt, who is a dual officeholder that occupies a seat and the state assembly while also serving as the Mayor of Ocean Township, is a Republican.

Upon realizing the blatant focus on Van Pelt’s party connection and the lack of such association for the other four culprits, the details of the allegations put forward in the purported news article became secondary and almost meaningless to me.

That is not to say that the scandal and its details are not alarming.  They are more than that, they are horrific.  They are just the tip to a plot that could involve a deeper and more notorious conspiracy.  But at the moment the shock of the Star Ledger’s blatant display of partisan favoritism took the thrust of the news that they attempted to present, right off the radar and on to the egregious nature in which they presented facts. The blatant political bias that the newspaper and author of the story, Joe Ryan, presented is what became the news to me.

The way that the paper presented this story broke one of the main tenets of journalism…..tell the story, do not become the story. By identifying the political allegiance of one and not and all the arrested parties in this unfolding scandal, the Star Ledger became just that……the story.

They became a perfect example of the left leaning proclivities that exists in journalism and news reporting today. They became a glaringly obvious purveyor of political bias that seeks to favor the image and impression of one political party over the other.

It would be one thing if the author of this piece, Joe Ryan, was a diehard liberal and could not help himself from making the sole mention of party affiliation in this scandal a reference to Republicans but it is another thing for the editorial staff to run with it unedited and uncorrected . Professional news outlets should have at least a scintilla of ethical judgment that allows them to be perceived as impartial deliverers of news and information.

The Star Ledger could at least try to make accusations about bias in the media a debatable question by trying to act impartial but I guess the fact that the mainstream media is a left leaning propaganda machine is taken so much for granted and such a given that even The Star Ledger has given up on trying to hide their favoritism.

The way in which this story was presented by Joe Ryan and the Ledger was disgraceful.. So much so that it overshadowed the story it tried to present and became a different headline, one that reads “New Jersey Star Ledger Makes It Official…Journalism Dies As Political Propaganda Prevails”.

The episode just goes to prove that Walter Cronkite is not the only hallmark of journalism to succumb to time. So has journalistic integrity.

As for my guest editorial in this newspaper, I do not think they will be publishing the topic I have chosen for next weeks edition.

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