U.S. Attorney - New Jersey

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Former Hoboken Mayor Admits Extorting Cash Contributions in Return for Official Influence

NEWARK, N.J. – Peter J. Cammarano III, former Mayor of the City of Hoboken, pleaded guilty today and admitted accepting $25,000 in illicit cash contributions in exchange for exercising his future official influence and authority, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Cammarano, 32, of Hoboken, appeared before United States District Judge Jose L. Linares and pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Judge Linares continued Cammarano’s release on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for August 3, 2010.  At his plea hearing, Cammarano admitted that, while he was an at-large Councilman for the City of Hoboken and candidate for the position of Mayor, he accepted three illicit cash campaign contributions totaling $15,000 from a cooperating witness (“CW”), who purported to be a real estate developer. Cammarano further admitted that on July 16, 2009, after he had been elected and sworn in as Mayor, he accepted an additional $10,000 illicit cash campaign contribution from the CW.

Real Estate Developer Admits Laundering Money for the Purpose of Making Political Contributions to a Union City Official - Mayor Brian Stack

NEWARK – Real estate developer Shimon Haber pleaded guilty today to conspiring to launder money, admitting he agreed with a cooperating witness and others to launder money for the purpose of making contributions to the political committee of a Union City official in exchange for official approvals to develop certain property in Union City, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

NOTE: The Star Ledger reported "Court filings and campaign finance reports show the money went to an election campaign associated with Mayor Brian Stack. The mayor has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has declined repeated requests to discuss the matter."

Haber, 34, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to a one-count criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to launder money to conceal and promote unlawful activity. Judge Linares continued Haber’s release on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for April 28, 2010 at 11:00a.m.

Atlantic City Council President, Camden Councilman Plead Guilty to Extortion; Contractor Admits Drug Charges

A three-year South Jersey corruption investigation today netted guilty pleas to extortion from City Council president Craig Callaway and Camden Council member Ali Sloan El, both of whom admitted that they accepted bribes from a contractor, in exchange for municipal contracts; the contractor pleaded guilty to an unrelated drug conspiracy charge, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Former Accounting Manager of Hoboken Housing Authority Admits Embezzling More Than $111,000

08-16-06 -- Hurt, Eric D. -- Guilty Plea -- News Release

Former Accounting Manager of Hoboken Housing Authority Admits Embezzling More Than $111,000

NEWARK:  The former accounting manager for the Hoboken Housing Authority pleaded guilty today to embezzling funds totaling $111,083 from the general operating fund by writing checks to himself, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Former Hudson County Freeholder, Jersey City Police Official Sentenced to 41 Months for Extorting County Vendor

12-22-04 -- Braker, William C. -- Sentencing -- News Release

Former Hudson County Freeholder, Jersey City Police Official Sentenced to 41 Months for Extorting County Vendor

NEWARK - Former Hudson County Freeholder William C. Braker was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison for extorting $3,000 in payments from a county vendor, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Braker, 58, who was also formerly a Deputy Director of the Jersey City Police Department, faced an applicable sentencing range of between 41 and 51 months in prison. Braker would have faced a probable range of between 31 and 41 months in prison. But last month, Braker tried to retract his guilty plea and, because of that, U.S. District Judge John C. Lifland today ruled that Braker had failed to accept responsibility for his crimes, a factor considered under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines in imposing sentence.

"We are very pleased with the sentence," Christie said. "Like other corrupt public officials we've seen, Mr. Braker seems unwilling or unable to recognize his criminality. For that, he's earned more prison time, which is appropriate and should stand as a lesson to other corrupt individuals."

Braker, who was indicted in December 2002 on a seven-count corruption Indictment, pleaded guilty on June 29, just as jury selection was to begin for his trial. He pleaded guilty to Count Three of the Indictment, which charged him with attempted extortion under color of official right.

Braker was a member of the freeholder board since 1987 and a Jersey City police officer until his retirement in 2002, when he was a deputy police director with the rank of lieutenant.

Braker admitted in June that between 1999 and September 2000 he met repeatedly with a vendor of psychiatric services and arranged to accept bribes. In exchange, the vendor was promised his vote of support as a freeholder and influence as a police official in helping the vendor obtain a contract with the police department.

The Indictment charged Braker with accepting three separate bribes. On April 4, 2000, Braker accepted a $2,000 cash bribe payment from the vendor. In June, 2000, Braker told the vendor that before the vendor could obtain a Jersey City Police Department contract, the vendor would have to "show good faith" by providing Braker with $2,000 in cash to purchase two $1,000 tickets to a political fundraiser. Braker was going to make a $1,000 cash contribution himself. Braker subsequently agreed to accept from the vendor a benefit of $1,000 by allowing the vendor to contribute not only $2,000 but also an additional $1,000 to cover the contribution that Braker had intended to make. On Sept. 29, 2000, one day after the Hudson County Board of Freeholders had approved a contract extension for the vendor, Braker accepted a $1,880 corrupt cash payment from the vendor.

After receiving a cash payment on one occasion, the Indictment states that Braker told the vendor, "I try and tell people invest five or six thousand for a three-hundred-thousand-dollar contract; you're way ahead of the game." The vendor received contracts with both Hudson County and the Jersey City Police Department.

Throughout the period that Braker was under investigation, the vendor had been voluntarily cooperating with the FBI. According to the Indictment, numerous conversations between the vendor and Braker were consensually recorded, and two of the three cash payments were captured on video tape as well.

Last month, Braker and his attorneys moved in federal court to take back his guilty plea, expressing his innocence and saying he wanted to go to trial. Judge Lifland, however, denied the motion and scheduled sentencing.

Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Joseph Billy, Jr., for their work in developing the case.

The Government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Kwon, of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.


Defense Attorney:

Thomas Ashley, Esq. Jersey City

and Henry Klingeman, Esq. Madison

Former Hoboken Mayor Russo Indicted for Extortion and Bribery

The former mayor of Hoboken, Anthony J. Russo, surrendered to the FBI this morning, after being charged in an Indictment with extortion and bribery for allegedly taking cash from bar owners, and city vendors, including a waterfront parking operator, towing contractor, accounting firm and an attorney, in exchange for official action on municipal contracts, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Russo, who served two terms as mayor between 1993 and 2001, is charged in a seven-count Indictment with six counts of mail fraud in a scheme to deny honest services to the citizens of Hoboken and one count of extortion. His Indictment was returned yesterday and unsealed after his surrender to Special Agents of the FBI in Newark this morning.