Bribes, Payoffs, and Politics

Pair accuse Menendez of conflict. Two Republicans cite rent he took from nonprofit in ethics complaint

Two Republican state lawmakers filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez yesterday, alleging he broke conflict-of-interest rules by collecting more than $300,000 in rent from a nonprofit agency he helped win millions of dollars in federal funding.

Tarragon took shortcut to problems with condos

A shortcut deemed to be a criminal act has backfired on a prominent real estate developer and its contractor, resulting in fines, house arrest and convictions for a project in Fort Lauderdale.

Tarragon Management's treatment of asbestos at the construction site was considered a violation of the federal Clean Air Act. This was not a mistake, but a criminal act, according to court documents.

US DOJ June 19, 2006 Press Release

NY Waterway to pay feds $1.2M. Ferry service accused of submitting 'false bills' for service post 9/11

New York Waterway, the ferry service based in Weehawken, has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle civil fraud charges brought by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

The charges were brought in connection with the federal government's reimbusement to the ferry service after Sept. 11, 2001.

BRIEFS: Hoboken's only female police captain resigns after investigation

Former Hoboken Police Captain Karen Dimonde resigned July 1 after pleading  guilty to 220 charges accrued over a 10-day period.

Following a 14-month investigation led by Hoboken's Internal Affairs, police  charged her with insubordination, conduct unbecoming of a public employee, failure to supervise subordinates, and neglect of duty.

Corzine sees 'pay to play' can apply to budgets, too

By midnight on Thursday, Gov. Jon Corzine had heard enough, so he left the Senate caucus room and asked his treasurer to bargain on his behalf.

This was an ugly bit of business.

Democratic legislators had agreed earlier that day to increase the sales tax. Now, behind closed doors, they wanted payback.

And it came in the form of $330 million in spending programs that were stuffed into the budget during that overnight meeting -- without any hearings, without any real scrutiny.

COMMENTARY: Does Corzine understand his role?

Did Jon Corzine have a Howard Dean moment?

Impressed by the 6,000 or so union members noisily rallying before him, the governor said, "We're gonna fight for a fair contract." We? If he's on labor's side of the table during negotiations, who represents their employer, the taxpayers of New Jersey?

Menendez seeking Musto testimony. Kean has demanded release of transcripts

Responding to a challenge by his Republican opponent, Sen. Robert Menendez yesterday took a first step toward making public the grand jury testimony he gave 25 years ago in the federal corruption case against former Union City Mayor William Musto.

For 9/11 widows, book adds insult to injury. Writer says they relish husbands' deaths

No one is much surprised that outspoken conservative columnist Ann Coulter attacks environmentalists and Bill Clinton in her new book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism."

But Coulter has raised eyebrows by taking aim at a different target: The widows of 9/11 victims.

Calling them "broads" who are "enjoying" their husbands' deaths, Coulter made her attack on the widows public yesterday, through the publication of the book and during a raucous appearance on NBC's "The Today Show."

TINTON FALLS: Planning Board suing a former member

ALLEGATION: Abrams used his public position for private gain Corruption suit to spur others?


DISGRACED MAYOR: Russo's benefits slashed

Former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo, who is serving a 30-month federal prison term for mail fraud, was dealt a personal setback yesterday as trustees of the state's public employees retirement fund slashed his pension benefits and canceled his public health insurance coverage.

State Criminal Justice reorganization - Gangs, Organized Crime, Political Corruption

Better late then never?  Two years after the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) published "The Changing Face of  ORGANIZED CRIME IN NEW JERSEY" May 2004, the New Jersey State Attorney General's Office recently announced that the number of investigators and prosecutors assigned to combat three pressing threats to public safety — gangs, organized crime and public corruption — will increase significantly under a criminal justice reorganization plan.

While Hoboken certainly has had its share of problems related to gangs, organized crime activity, and public corruption, reallocating State criminal justice resources to address the findings of the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation is a step in the right direction. 

League of Municipalities working to muzzle public

Sometimes the tail can wag the dog, and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities proves it.

Unknown to most New Jersey residents, the league describes itself on its Web site as "a voluntary association created to help communities do a better job of self-government through pooling information resources and brain power." The league also states that it "is authorized by state statute and since 1915 has been serving local officials throughout the Garden State. . . . Over 560 mayors and 13,000 elected and appointed officials of member municipalities are entitled to all of the services and privileges of the league."

Despite the rosy picture of public service painted by the league, in reality it is a self-appointed shadow government that functions in relative anonymity behind local governments elected by the citizens. Regardless of what it claims, the league's employees, who never face an electorate, tell elected members of local governments what is best for their constituents.

Judge: Mob rat's tapes OK

A federal judge yesterday denied a motion by reputed mobster Joseph "Big Joe" Scarbrough seeking to throw out of court recordings made by an FBI informant.

Scarbrough's lawyer, Michael Koribanics, argued that the informant, Peter "Petey Cap" Caporino, continued his own criminal activities while working with the FBI for as long as a decade, making the FBI a collaborator in those crimes.

New Jersey Statutes: Local Government Ethics Law

40A:9-22.5  Provisions requiring compliance by local government officers, employees
      Local government officers or employees under the jurisdiction of the Local Finance Board shall comply with the following provisions:
     a.   No local government officer or employee or member of his immediate family shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest

Countersuits also filed in suit vs. Janiszewski

Prison letters, countersuits and a freeze on millions of dollars of property are just a few of the details emerging from Hudson County's civil suit against disgraced former County Executive Robert Janiszewski and others connected to the notorious political corruption scandal.

The county filed a wide-ranging civil complaint in January seeking to recoup more than $26 million in bribes received and "illegal" county contracts doled out while Janiszewski - who is serving prison time for extortion - was in office.


Nail dirty pols, Union City psychiatrist says in counterclaim

The Union City psychiatrist who helped the FBI snare corrupt former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski and is now being sued by the county says he is a victim of retaliation by "cronies" of the former political boss, according to a counterclaim filed in federal court.

Dr. Oscar Sandoval, who once held contracts to provide psychiatric care at the county jail, is among 14 defendants in a lawsuit filed by the county in January seeking damages equal to bribes, "illegally" obtained contracts, interest and attorneys fees. That suit seeks $26 million, $7 million from Sandoval alone.

Sandoval: Jail death cover-up

Among the many charges made by Dr. Oscar Sandoval in his counterclaim against Hudson County is that he was silenced regarding the death of a prisoner he thought might have been a homicide.

"In 1994, after the suicidal death of a patient because of the negligence of the (Hudson County) Correctional Center which then tried to cover it up, Dr. Sandoval orally communicated that the death could have been a homicide," says Sandoval's complaint, filed in response to the county's suit seeking damages from bribes paid to disgraced former County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

"Dr. Sandoval was threatened that he would be criminally charged with interference with an investigation if he persisted in bringing to the attention of the authorities the non-suicidal nature of the incident."

Hoboken mob trial defendent attacks feds' use of informant

Tapes secretly recorded for the federal government by Peter Caporino, 69, who owned the Character Club in Hoboken and allegedly had ties to the Genovese crime family, are expected to be the centerpiece of the March 20 trial of reputed mobster Joseph Scarbrough, accused of running illegal sports betting out of Hudson County.

Caporino, according to court papers filed by the government, spent more than two years building the key evidence in the case: Recording roughly 800 hours of conversations with fellow mobsters and others, including unidentified public employees.

Not off the hook Former towing operators sentenced; one tells FBI that both Russos wanted bribes

The former owners of what was once Hoboken's only car towing company were sentenced to probation last week for tax evasion, and one of them apparently tried to point a finger at the wife of former Mayor Anthony Russo. In February of 1999, FBI agents and officials from the Internal Revenue Service raided Hoboken Auto Body, the Jackson Street company that had the exclusive rights to tow improperly parked cars in the city.

What the investigators found was tax fraud. The principals of Hoboken Auto Body have admitted to maintaining a "double set of books," one set revealing the cash profits and the other not showing them.

According to federal sentencing guidelines, company owner Theresa Pino would have spent more than a year in prison. But because she cooperated with investigators, U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano only sentenced her to two years of probation on Tuesday.

And apparently, her cooperation helped bring down former Mayor Anthony Russo - who is now serving jail time - and attempted to implicate his wife, who is not.

Clean Elections needs scrubbing

The commission charged with overseeing the state's Clean Elections pilot project held a post mortem this week at Brookdale Community College.  This year's pilot project, conducted in the 13th and 6th legislative districts, was an unmitigated failure.

FBI wants city files on project

In a widening federal probe into the business dealings of Democratic power broker John Lynch and his business partner, John E. Westlake, FBI agents Wednesday served New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill and the city with subpoenas, Cahill said Thursday.

The $70 million project was developed by Roseland Property Co. of Short Hills, Matrix Development of Cranbury and The Applied Cos. of Hoboken. The New Brunswick Development Corp.

Squeaky-clean start is goal of Corzine team

Gov.-elect Jon S. Corzine and the head of his transition team, Richard C. Leone, both said Thursday they hope to "set a tone" for the next four years with tight ethical standards from the start.

Corzine has pledged to cut down on the number of political appointees in the government work force, and Leone indicated his team would begin working on that goal.

"We're going to look into the numbers and the positions, as well as try to get a line on the quality of performance," Leone said. "It's not a disqualification to have come via the political route, but it does mean, I think, tightened scrutiny."

FBI searches office of former Sen. Lynch

Documents from powerful Democrat and developer partner sought in corruption probe

FBI agents yesterday raided an office shared by former state Sen. John Lynch and a politically active developer, bringing into the open a longstanding corruption probe involving one of the state's most powerful political figures.


A Hoboken developer and attorney convicted of passing bribes to former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski was disbarred this week by the state's Office of Attorney Ethics.

Joseph Barry, already serving a 25-month prison term, voluntarily consented to disbarment last month, according to court records.

BYRNE SUCCUMBS AT HOME Corrupt, genial political insider rose to power in the 1970s

Colorful Hudson County political insider and admitted bribe bagman Paul J. Byrne was found dead in his Downtown Jersey City residence yesterday afternoon.

Byrne, 59, already blind from diabetes, suffered congestive heart failure and a stroke on March 31, less than a week before he was to be sentenced on charges that he took bribes for disgraced former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

While Byrne was in the hospital, doctors determined he needed a bypass operation, but Byrne said he was ready to die. He returned to his Washington Boulevard home after 11 days in the hospital, telling his doctors and family members that he did not want to be resuscitated if he lost consciousness.

Final, fateful chapter in a Hudson epic Byrne's life ends on the day Janiszewski starts his jail term

Robert Janiszewski and Paul Byrne shared a friendship for nearly a lifetime, political power for a generation and the infamy of corruption during the last few years.

Yesterday, the former Hudson County executive and his once- loyal bagman parted for the last time in quintessential New Jersey fashion.

Janiszewski reported to prison.

Byrne died.

BYRNE 'AT PEACE' Tells docs not to resuscitate lets kin know time is near

Among the saints and scoundrels of New Jersey politics, there are few lives as colorful as that of Paul J. Byrne.

A streetwise kid from Jersey City, he rose to become the guru of backroom politics for the state's most powerful Democrats.

There were heady times, fueled by power and graft. And a spectacular fall marked by two final betrayals: first, his lifelong pal, Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, ratted him out to the FBI; then, his own body quit on him.

Now, Byrne says, he's ready to die.

How Quickly They Forget

Hoboken Reporter

How quickly they forget

Dear Editor:
Selective memory. That phrase characterizes the actions of a small group of "reformers" who were associated with, or ran with me in the 2001 municipal election. Council members Soares and Marsh and former CFO Michael Lenz have been very vocal on the issue of campaign finance reform, practically implying that the former method was corrupt.  In fact, they are actually treading on new levels of hypocrisy by their actions.

BIG HOUSE FOR BARRY. Hoboken developer is sentenced to 25 months in kickback scheme Ordered to pay $1M restitution, $20G fine 100-plus supporters, dad attend sentencing

NEWARK - Hoboken-based developer Joseph Barry was sentenced yesterday to two years and one month in federal prison, ordered to make $1 million in restitution and fined $20,000 for making kickbacks to disgraced Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

Barry pleaded guilty in June to four counts of making illegal payments in connection with a federal program. The remaining counts, conspiracy and five mail fraud charges, were dismissed as part of a plea-bargain arrangement.

Davila-Colon is now Prisoner 25094-050 Connecticut prison to be ex-freeholder's home for next 3 years

Former Hudson County Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon is now prisoner 25094-050.

The former seven-term freeholder from Jersey City, who was convicted on corruption charges in June, has begun her 37-month prison term at a federal minimum security facility in Connecticut.

In one of Hudson County's highest profile political corruption trials in years, Davila-Colon was convicted of passing bribes in 1999 to then-Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, now one of the most notorious government witnesses in North Jersey, who made his debut on the stand during her trial.

Davila-Colon, a county freeholder for 20 years, was committed to the Danbury Federal Correction Institution's "camp," on Friday, said Carla Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prison in Washington.

Ex-Hudson freeholder gets 37 months for graft

A federal judge yesterday sentenced former Hudson County Freeholder Nidia Dávila Colón to 37 months in prison for passing bribes to the county executive for her boyfriend, a psychiatrist with county contracts.

U.S. District Judge William Bassler said Colón was a kind and compassionate person who had been "heartbroken" and "humiliated" by Oscar Sandoval, the boyfriend who secretly recorded her for the FBI.

But the judge also said Colón, a freeholder for 19 years and the state's longest serving female in elective office, had become a victim of her own ambition.

Bost goes to prison in W. Virginia Former Irvington mayor appealing graft sentence

Former Irvington Mayor Sara Bost reported to a federal prison camp in West Virginia yesterday after losing a bid to remain free while she appeals her sentence on corruption charges.

Bost arrived for a year-long stay at the women's minimum-security camp in Alderson, a prison official confirmed.

The town is a mountainside hamlet of barely 1,000 people in the southern part of the state, near the Virginia border. It's also 480 miles from the New Jersey township where Bost served two terms as mayor, before her once-rising political star crashed.

A chatty Byrne zings Bobby J and wife Beth

NEWARK - As one of Hudson County's best-known back-room political operators and once the bosom buddy of former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, Paul Byrne can usually be counted on for an outrageous quip, an off-color joke or a thundering accusation.

Yesterday, as he left the federal courthouse shortly after his initial appearance on fraud and extortion charges, the 57-year-old Jersey City resident dished out a little bit of all three, with most of his comments directed squarely at Janiszewski and his wife, Beth.

"O.K., I'm guilty," he declared. "Guilty of being Bob Janiszewski's friend for 50 years."

Nidia calls it quits Convicted longtime freeholder's resignation effective July 7

Hudson County Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon announced her resignation yesterday, three days after her conviction in federal court for her role in a 1999 bribery scheme.

In a letter dated Wednesday and sent to the clerk of the freeholders and other county officials, Davila-Colon, 49, the longest-serving member of the board, said her "reputation has been tarnished to a point that the damage is irreparable."

"The road is extremely difficult for me," she wrote. "But I take full responsibility for my actions . There is no better way to phrase it than to say, I'm sorry."

Chronology of events leading up to Davila-Colon's conviction

Chronology of events leading up to Davila-Colon's conviction

Sept. 6, 2001
Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski abruptly resigns after 13 years at the helm of county government and disappears. It's later revealed that he had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors after getting caught taking money from a county vendor who was secretly working for the FBI as part of an undercover operation to catch corrupt politicians in Hudson County.

Oct. 18, 2001
Dr. Oscar Sandoval, a Union City psychiatrist who held more than $2 million in contracts to provide psychiatric services to county facilities, denies reports that he was the vendor who was working with the FBI to catch Janiszewski - but it's later revealed that he is.

Jury convicts longtime freeholder on all 5 counts in bribery case Hudson prosecutor to seek Davila-Colon's quick removal

NEWARK - Hudson County Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon was found guilty in federal court yesterday for her role in a 1999 bribery scheme involving then-County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

After deliberating roughly 10 hours over three days, the jury of five men and seven women filed into U.S. District Judge William G. Bassler's court just after 11:30 a.m. yesterday and returned its verdict, the foreman repeating "guilty" after each of the three mail fraud and two aiding and abetting attempted extortion charges Davila-Colon faced.

The seven-term freeholder from Jersey City will be sentenced by Bassler on Sept. 29.

Most Hudson County politicians are mum on verdict

Reaction in the local political community to Hudson County Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon's conviction was muted.

Many of those who were asked for comment declined, among them U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez, D-Hoboken, and Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, leaders of the rival Democratic factions in Hudson County. Davila-Colon is a former Menendez staffer and Cunningham is a former county director.

There also was no comment on the verdict from Freeholder Chairman Sal Vega of West New York, nor from Sen. Bernard Kenny, D-Hoboken, the county Democratic chairman. Several of Davila-Colon's freeholder colleagues also declined to comment.

Ex-Paterson mayor gets 37-month term. His apparent lack of remorse in corruption case stuns courtroom

The evidence against Marty Barnes included tape recordings by a cooperating contractor, photos of Barnes frolicking with prostitutes at a Brazil resort and a paper trail showing kickbacks, clothes, trips, furniture, even a new pool and a waterfall.

But Barnes, the once-defiant and reform-minded Paterson mayor, wasn't exactly contrite as he stood yesterday for sentencing in federal court.

Instead, he blamed the rigors of his job.

Barnes told a judge that the hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks and illegal gifts occurred because he had become "bogged down" trying to run New Jersey's third-largest city.

"I probably didn't pay as much attention to other things that I should have," Barnes told U.S. District Judge William Bassler, in a brief and seemingly off-the-cuff statement. "For that, I'm truly sorry."

Bost admits witness tampering, ends trial Irvington ex-mayor could face up to 10 years in prison

The federal government's year-long effort to convict former Irvington Mayor Sara Bost ended yesterday with her guilty plea to a single count of witness tampering.

Bost was charged in a five-count indictment alleging she accepted bribes and tampered with a witness. She ended her nearly month-old trial by admitting before U.S. District Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr. in Newark that four years ago, she tried to get former Irvington business administrator David Fuller to lie to federal investigators probing a paving contract at the town's Chris Gatling Recreation Center.

Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Campaign Finance Abuse Complaint Letter to FEC

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter serves as formal notice to the Federal Election Committee (“FEC”) that New Jersey’s 13th District Congressman, Robert “Bob” Menendez (“Mr. Menendez”) is in direct violation of 11CFR Part 300, Subpart D, “Candidates and Officeholders/” BCRA places limits on the amounts and types of funds that can be raised by Federal candidates and Officeholders for both Federal and State candidates (See 2 USC 444 I (e)). The regulations that address these limitations are found in 11 CFR, Part 300 Subpart D (“Code”).

Misleading statements must be exposed

Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:
For the benefit of the public I must expose Mr. Lenz for his misleading statements in recent advertisements and interviews.

Mr Lenz complains about "Big Campaign contributions"
Truth: Mr Lenz had no trouble cashing those checks when he managed our campaign.