NJ Corruption Glance

NJ Corruption Glance
9/15/2006, (AP)

The guilty pleas to tax evasion and fraud Friday of former state Senate President John Lynch are just the latest instances of corruption to hit New Jersey, a state that has had more than a few high-profile officials and others disgraced in recent years, including the mayors of Camden and Paterson. A partial list:

_Real estate mogul Charles B. Kushner, a big donor to state and national Democrats, last month left federal custody after serving less than two years for campaign violations, tax violations, and retaliating against a witness — his sister — by having her husband seduced by a prostitute. Kushner admitted that he sent a videotape of his brother-in-law's sexual encounter to his sister because she had cooperated with a federal investigation of Kushner's business activities.

_Democratic fundraiser David D'Amiano was sentenced in 2005 to two years in prison for soliciting and accepting $40,000 in cash and political contributions in return for assisting a Middlesex County farmland preservation deal. Prosecutors charged that D'Amiano demanded campaign donations from Mark Halper, owner of a 74-acre farm in Piscataway, in exchange for helping Halper get a favorable offer from county officials for preservation rights to the farm.

_Several former local and county officials in Monmouth County have pleaded guilty as part of a federal sting that came to light in February 2005 with the arrests of 12 people, including the mayors of Hazlet, Keyport and West Long Branch. Among those later charged was the longtime director of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Harry Larrison Jr., a Republican who was the top elected official in the county. Larrison, who was charged in April 2005 with taking $8,500 in bribes from developers, died the next month at age 78. He had retired in December 2004 after 39 years as a freeholder.

_Longtime Hudson County Executive Robert C. Janiszewski, a Democrat with national influence, last year began serving a 41-month federal term. He has been helping prosecutors put his associates in prison since he pleaded guilty in October 2002, admitting that he took more than $100,000 in bribes during his 13 1/2 years as the county's top elected official.

_Developer Joseph Barry got a 25-month prison term after admitting giving Janiszewski nearly $115,000 in payoffs after getting his help obtaining government grants. Barry, former president of Hoboken-based Applied Development, also was fined $20,000 and ordered to repay $1 million to federal agencies.

_Nidia Davila Colon, a five-term Hudson County freeholder, got a 2 1/2-year term after being convicted of passing more than $10,000 in bribes to Janiszewski so her then-boyfriend, psychiatrist Oscar Sandoval, could win millions of dollars in county contracts. Janiszewski testified against her at trial. Sandoval became an FBI informant and was never charged.

_Former Hudson County Freeholder William C. Braker, a Democrat, in 2004 got three years and five months in prison for extorting money from Sandoval while he was in office in exchange for help in getting a police contract.

_Former Hoboken Mayor Anthony J. Russo was sentenced in May 2005 to 30 months in federal prison after admitting he took bribes from an accountant and towing contractor to help them get city contracts.

_Former Essex County Executive James W. Treffinger, who twice failed to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, spent 13 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2003 to obstruction of justice and mail fraud. Besides inflating three county contracts by $5,000 each to reimburse a contractor, Treffinger acknowledged that he had two Essex employees work on a political campaign while on county time at a cost to taxpayers of $29,471. Treffinger had succeeded Democrat Thomas D'Alessio after D'Alessio's conviction on federal corruption charges.

_Former Paterson Mayor Martin G. Barnes left federal custody this year after serving 32 month. He pleaded guilty in July 2003, admitting that he took $200,000 worth of bribes from contractors doing business with the state's third-largest city.

_Former Camden Mayor Milton Milan got a seven-year prison sentence following his 2000 conviction on taking payoffs from the mob, laundering drug money and stealing campaign funds. He was the third mayor of that city in recent years to be indicted.

_Former Mayor Kenneth Gibson of Newark, pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges in 2002 for actions that took place after he left office.

_Former Asbury Park Mayor Kenneth E. Saunders Jr. was sentenced in July 2004 to 33 months in federal prison on corruption and tax charges. He had been convicted in December 2003 with political consultant Rayfield James Jr. of plotting to offer bribes to a City Council member in an effort to profit from waterfront redevelopment. The Saunders case was among several to emerge from the city's effort to rebuild its rundown waterfront.

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