I always hear jokes about how pols in New Jersey are corrupt, but I had no idea how bad it was, or how stupid and wholly unethical these movers and shakers are.

New Jersey Pols And Rabbis Arrested For Money Laundering, Body Parts Trafficking

At least 30 public officials were arrested and hauled into federal court in Newark this morning in a story that is so far short on details and long on awesome names.

There is Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, the aforementioned Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano — who is just 23 days into his term after winning a runoff election by 67 absentee ballots and may have a secret family — in addition to the longtime Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and a lot of as-yet-unidentified employees of two Monmouth County religious institutions, the Ohel Yaacob synagogue and the Deal Yeshiva, the latter of which first ran into trouble when the real estate mogul son of its founder deposited a bad $25.2 million check.

Oh, it gets better, and the list of high-ranking officials caught by the informant is out of control. Blue Jersey is all over this.

Today was a bad day for New Jersey.  There is literally so much news coming out regarding the charges and indictments, I wanted to do a recap:

  • Indictments and Charges: Here is the full list of politicians and religious leaders that were charged.  In all there were 44 people charged with everything from public corruption to money laundering:
    Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, state Assemblyman President L. Harvey Smith and state Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt were among those arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Ridgefield Mayor Suarez, who is also an attorney, is charged with agreeing to accept an illegal $10,000 cash payment for his legal defense fund.

    Here are the links to many of the criminal complaints.

  • Calls for resignation and suspensions: We have seen calls coming from all over the place for people to resign. The Governor and Chris Christie both called for all involved to resign. Joe Roberts sent out a statement calling on both Assemblymembers Smith and Van Pelt to resign and stripping them of their committee assignments. Minority Leader DeCroce, Christie, Guadagno and others called for the resignation of Van Pelt. Joe Cryan called for Smith's resignation. The Governor also asked for and accepted the resignation of Joe Doria at the Department of Community Affairs. Mayor Healy said any public officials arrested today are suspended without pay. Dawn Zimmer is urging Peter Cammarano to resign. Ocean County Party Boss and Chair George Gilmore, who was apparently considering Assemblyman Van Pelt as a potential challenger to John Adler next cycle, will call for his resignation.
  • More corruption below the fold, including the unbelievable selling of kidneys.

    I'm just wondering how many people a person who wants to open a business in NJ have to pay off?

  • How it all began:
    What began as a federal investigation into money laundering by Syrian Jewish community leaders in New Jersey and New York a decade ago spawned into a broad web of political corruption that enveloped two N.J. assemblymen and three mayors.

    At the press conference, the US Attorneys said that this investigation went back to the days of Operation Bid Rig. It also appears that a main cooperating witness helped to take everyone down.  He has been identified in many places as Solomon Dwek, who himself was arrested in 2006 for trying to pass a bad $25 million check.

  • Selling Body Parts and Money Laundering:  Many of the Rabbi's were charged with money laundering millions of dollars through charities. Additionally disturbing is the fact that one Rabbi reportedly called himself a matchmaker trying to arrange for the sale of a kidney for $160,000.
  • Speculation of replacements: With talk of resignations, there is the thought of who will fill those openings. Wally at PNJ says Democrats have a Jersey City Detective who could replace smith. I haven't seen much talk about who will replace Doria at DCA. If Cammarano were to resign, would there be a November special election for new Mayor? Apparently there are three freeholders that would be in the running to replace Van Pelt should he step down.
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