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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Corruption Keeps Court of Appeals Circuit Busy

U.S. prosecutors consider appealing the dismissal of public corruption charges for non-officials
The Star-Ledger by MaryAnn Spoto - March 17, 2011

They left the federal courthouse in Newark on Wednesday the same way they had arrived: hoping a judge would dismiss corruption charges against them. A month after the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a crippling blow to federal prosecutors, five defendants in New Jersey’s largest federal corruption sting remained no closer to learning whether charges against them would be dropped or their cases thrown out entirely. Government attorneys said they are considering asking the full court of appeals to decide whether the five can be charged with public corruption even if they did not hold public office when they allegedly accepted bribes from disgraced developer Solomon Dwek. U.S. District Judge Jose Linares gave the government until April 4 to make a decision and file the necessary paperwork. Even then, it is unclear whether the issue will be decided. If U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman decides to ask for an appeal, it could take months for the 3rd Circuit to decide whether it wants to hear the case. The delay disappointed some of the defense attorneys. "My hope was that we were going to come here and they were just going to accept the decision," Raymond Hamlin, attorney for former Jersey City housing authority commissioner Lori Serrano, said after court. "Hopefully it will be like we said — at the end of the day Lori Serrano has done nothing wrong." Serrano, who lost a bid for Jersey City council in 2009, is accused of accepting $10,000 in bribes for her campaign from Dwek in exchange for her help in expediting permits for a supposed development project in the city. But Dwek, posing as developer David Esenbach, was secretly working with the FBI and recording meetings and telephone conversations. Some of the attorneys had hoped Linares would at least drop the extortion charges for their clients in light of his decision last year and the 3rd Circuit’s ruling last month.

In those decisions, Linares and a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit said brothers Ron and Lou Manzo could not be charged under a law making it illegal for public officials to accept cash for their influence. The courts said the law does not apply because they were not public officials when they allegedly took cash from Dwek. Lou Manzo, a former assemblyman, was a Jersey City mayoral candidate at the time of the alleged bribes and his brother was the manager of the failed campaign. The rulings did not immediately end the case against the Manzos and Serrano because they still face bribery and mail fraud charges. However two others have already pleaded guilty and their attorneys said they plan to ask Linares to set aside those convictions.
Former Hudson County Undersheriff James "Jimmy" King, who once served as executive director of the city’s parking authority and as chairman of its incinerator authority, pleaded guilty in September 2009 to bribery. Housing advocate LaVern Webb-Washington pleaded guilty to bribery the following month and was sentenced to one year in prison, a term Linares agreed to suspend until the appeal issue is resolved.

Lou Manzo attacks Gov Chris Christie

Former Democratic state Assemblyman Louis Manzo, one of dozens of public and political figures charged in a massive corruption sweep in July 2009, lashed out at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who spearheaded the prosecution in his previous post of US Attorney. Manzo said the investigation was rife with conflicts of interest, misconduct and violations of federal laws. A spokesman for Christie called Manzo, 'just another official in New Jersey charged with corruption who wants to divert attention from his own conduct.' Federal prosecutors argued the extortion charge for all five defendants is appropriate because the alleged bribes would have paved the way for development permits if the candidates were elected. If the 3rd Circuit takes up the case and gives a ruling not favorable to prosecutors, the government could go to the U.S. Supreme Court, adding more months to cases that already have been pending nearly two years. Samuel DeLuca, the attorney representing Ron Manzo, said federal prosecutors should be wary of going to the Supreme Court. "I’m not sure they’re going to want to go to the Supreme Court," he said. "If the Supreme Court affirms the 3rd Circuit, that’s the law of the land. That’ll affect many cases." Serrano said she wanted the case to end Wednesday. "We all do, at this point," she said. "It’s been a long time now."


Anonymous said...

Maybe the 2nd and 3rd Circuit Courts should get together and have tea. Are they so blind that they don't see a really big problem with corruption? But they look at loopholes, following the letter of the law when it's convenient, of course. The good news is that all of these judges' rumps must be squirming as they themselves just may be next to be brought up on corruption charges. I say three cheers for these brave federal prosecutors who are trying to take a bite of corruption.

victim of corruption said...

I would like to hear some of these judges talk about the corruption of our public officials and that includes them and their fellow lawyers.

termite inspector said...

So the rot in the Second Circuit is also present in the Third Circuit. Obviously, they are bathing in their judicial corruption lather and think there are non-consequences to their corruption. Make your bed with thieves and criminals and lie with them and wake to their destiny. Is there honor among thieves or judges they control?

florida resident said...

New York, New Jersey and Florida have a lot in common from what I'm reading. We just had 'Operation Dirty Water' 13 arrested in massive Palm Beach County public corruption case. This nation has become a collection of corrupt scumbags.

Anonymous said...

The NY Daily news did an investigation into corruption of NYC public officials, and found plenty of dirt. Enough that these politicians should be charged with crimes.

Dirty secrets: City Council members have bent rules

More than a dozen City Council members have skirted laws and bent rules for their own benefit.

Queens pol has skeletons in closet, News finds

Ruben Wills doesn't want you to know he has outstanding arrest warrants for pending criminal cases

There is enough public information out there as to the crimes that elected officers in the entire State of New York are criminals that stories like this are no surprise.

And it is also probably no surprise that nothing is ever done.

Isn't it one of the functions of the Federal Government to protect citizens from these types of corrupt public officials?

Anonymous said...

Gov. Chris Christie is not 'Mr. Clean'. He covered up plenty, for instance the Lefrack connection and Wash DC and so far he's gotten away with it. I'll bet that if he ever runs for President all manner of things will begin to spill out.

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