Note: I was at the Federal Building in Newark today, but not at the press conference. I was not permitted in the room, and I’ll deal with that one later, because I’m steamed about it. But this is culled from the documents distributed there – – – Rosi Efthim
The ironies and contradictions of today’s news whip the head around. Contradiction: This is bad news, as Jason points out. But it’s also good news; when rocks are pried up and sunlight hits what squirms underneath, it’s a victory. You know it is.
Contradiction: Today was a shock, but no surprise to a lot of weary voters. This is why people don’t vote, why they throw their hands up in disgust. Ironically, the disgusted ones are precisely the ones we need engaged.
You’ve seen the big-name arrest list and the extraordinary perp walk, pols shuffling off one FBI bus, and rabbis another. Envelopes stuffed with cash. Meetings in diners. Promises made for introductions only to “players” who would “do the right thing” if greased sufficiently. A complex system of rabbis, and “cash houses” to launder dirty money. This is a bad movie.
Shoes still to drop Information may still sift in. Court-ordered search warramts were executed today for about 20 locations in NJ and New York to recover, among other things, large sums of cash. And 28 seizure warrants were executed against bank accounts of the money laundering defendants, and the entities in their control. There were 300 agents involved, in 54 locations in NJ-NY. And there is one charge of trafficking in human kidneys.
How did it work? What’s still not clear to me is the extent to which all these politicians’ alleged bad acts are tied together. To what degree were they in league with each other?
One clue to how federal investigators think it worked is included in a description of where their investigation started – with the money laundering – and how it wound its way to the pols.
The “CW,” the Triangle, and the rabbis… Law enforcement, along with the cooperating witness (in documents, “CW”) widely rumored as Solomon Dwek, infiltrated a pre-existing money laundering network between Deal, NJ, Brooklyn and Israel. The related investigation – hauling inthe politicians – has roots in 2007 Hudson County, when the CW started showing up looking to nab public contracts in the county schools.
He got himself introduced to a Jersey City building inspector. And from there a web of introductions and referrals grew that eventually included elected officials, council and mayoral candidates, zoning officials and others in official capacity, mostly in Hudson. Here’s how (from the US Attorney’s office statement):
In part, the bribe-taking was connected to fund raising efforts in heavily contested mayoral and city council campaigns in Jersey City and Hoboken, and the bribes were often parceled out to straw donors, who then wrote checks in their names or businesses to the campaigns in amounts that complied with legal limits on individual donations – so-called conduit or conversion donations. Other bribe recipients took cash for direct personal use and benefit; others kept some of the cash and used the rest for political campaigns, according to the criminal Complaints.
The biggest fish may be Peter Cammarano, just sworn in as Hoboken mayor days ago, and also a lawyer. He’s charged with taking $25,000 in cash bribes, including $10,000 just one week ago, from an undercover witness. Cammarano’s alledged to have taken cash bribes to grease the skids for a high rise development by the witness. At the diner meeting, Cammarano promised the CW “…you’re going to be treated like a friend.”
Like a friend …