Countersuits also filed in suit vs. Janiszewski

Countersuits also filed in suit vs. Janiszewski
Monday, March 20, 2006

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.

The suit names many of the key figures in the federal government's unmasking of political corruption in the county, which also landed Freeholders Nidia Davila-Colon and William Braker, both of Jersey City, and Hoboken accountant Gerard Lisa in prison.

The county also named accountant Charles Fallon, who pleaded guilty to bribing Janiszewski in exchange for county contracts but was spared jail time.

The only individuals not charged in the federal sweep, but named in the county's civil suit are Union City psychiatrist Oscar Sandoval and former financial adviser to the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority Jay Booth.

Fallon and Sandoval are the only defendants to formally answer the complaints in court documents, with both individuals denying the charges and filing separate countersuits against the county.

Sandoval portrays himself as a victim, arguing he was only named in the suit because he cooperated with the feds to bring down the county's "political machine."

Fallon said the county failed to live up to its contracts with his firm.

Davila-Colon responded to the suit in a hand-written letter from prison, saying she has "no available funds" to hire an attorney and seeks an extension until she is released from jail on May 16.

More than 20 filings connected to the case have already been received in U.S. District Court in Newark.

Among other motions, the county has asked the court to place a freeze on all the defendants' assets and properties, hiring a private investigation firm to identify the defendants' net worths.

The freeze would prevent those named in the suit from selling property or moving around assets while the county attempts to recoup more than $26.85 million in damages.

The private investigator's reports show Janiszewski associated with more than 20 properties since 1974 and currently owning property in New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

The county's attorney, Stephen Edelstein, said the case is proceeding quickly, but it will take a while before it reaches a conclusion.

"We're moving along, but there's going to be a lot of maneuvering around before it really gains some speed," said Edelstein.

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