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Public Corruption Arrests - July 23, 2009

Here’s the full list of people charged in the public corruption portion of the federal investigation that culminated in the arrest of many political heavies today.

Those charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right and/or attempted extortion under color of official right could, if convicted, face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum statutory fine of $250,000.

Those charged with agreeing to offer a bribe payment to a public official, could, if convicted, face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum statutory fine of $250,000.

In corruption busts, feds need lots of bait to catch big fish

When it comes to big corruption busts -- like Thursday's arrest of 44 politicians, public employees and religious leaders -- the laws of nature are reversed.

The little fish will eat the big fish.

Or, at least, they'll try.

If it helps them get off the hook.

"I am sure some of these defendants will be clamoring to testify against others,'' says Alan Zegas of Chatham, one of the state's most prominent criminal defense attorneys who -- so far -- is not involved in the massive sting operation announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"It's been true since time began -- or at least since John J. Kenny turned on John V. Kenny in the 1970s," says Larry Horn, a former assistant U.S. attorney who now is chief defense attorney for the financial section of the big Newark law firm, Sills Cummis.

Horn is referring to the good old days of political corruption trials when the feds would take down entire county and municipal governments, starting at the bottom with the little fish and flipping them -- or getting them to agree to testify against the bigger bottom feeders.

Hosp board selects Bado as director

Fred Bado, who recently retired as Hoboken's director of community development, has been offered the position of executive director of the Municipal Hospital Authority.

Bado, a non-practicing attorney who has no background in hospital administration, said he has not accepted the position yet and is currently talking with the board about the position.

"This is not a political plum - it's a tough job and I'm qualified to do this," he said. "I have done a good job for the city of Hoboken and I look at this as a way to continue doing a good job for the city of Hoboken."

Theft allegation hits ex-Hoboken finance aide

A woman who worked as a financial specialist for a firm the city used was arrested this week for allegedly stealing more than $10,000 from a nonprofit she worked for in Monmouth County.

Before she worked in Hoboken, Kathryn Kinney, 42, was working as the executive director of the Poricy Park Conservancy in Middletown.

She is charged with stealing $10,219 from the nonprofit organization, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. Kinney allegedly took the money to stall foreclosure proceedings on her home in Bridgewater.

Kinney, 42, is charged with third-degree theft and third-degree misapplication of entrusted property.

Desperate people do desperate things, $65K bail for housing commish accused of wait list rigging

It was only eight months ago that Hoboken resident Hector Claveria, 36, was appointed to the seven-member volunteer board that oversees Hoboken’s housing projects, after several City Council people touted his financial expertise and said the board needed new blood.

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“File this under ‘desperate people do desperate things.’ ” – Perry Belfiore
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Soon after that, according to a source, Claveria happened to lose his job as director of finance at Rosemount Capital Management in New York City.

This past Tuesday, Claveria was arrested and charged with taking a bribe to move a tenant in the projects up on the wait list for a housing voucher.

“File this under ‘desperate people do desperate things,’ ” said fellow Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner Perry Belfiore last week. “I love Hector and I feel for his family. He’s not the first Housing Authority commissioner to get jammed up.”

Cammarano elected Hoboken mayor, Zimmer has majority of council

Mayor Elect Peter Cammarano

Hoboken Mayor-elect Peter Cammarano shakes hands with opponent Dawn Zimmer after all the ballots were counted yesterday at the Hudson County Board of Elections office in Jersey City.

After a drawn-out election process, Councilman-at-Large Peter Cammarano edged out Fourth Ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer by 161 votes yesterday to become mayor of Hoboken.

"This election has been a long and arduous one and a very close one, but it is over," the 31-year-old Cammarano told Hoboken Now's Carly Baldwin shortly after provisional and newly found absentee ballots were tallied at county Board of Elections offices in Jersey City. "I'm satisfied with this margin of victory."

Mason asks for back-pay, salary and benefits

What is Beth thinking?

Councilwoman Beth Mason, less than a month after her candidacy for mayor failed, has asked the city to reimburse her council salary going back to January and to reinstate her salary and medical benefits going forward.

City officials confirmed yesterday that Mason requested backpay totaling $8,816, a reestablishment of her council salary - roughly $22,000 per year - and council health benefits going forward.

Mason confirmed the request after the City Council meeting on Wednesday, and said that she finally listened to all the supporters who told her she earned her salary and should take it.

3rd-place finish stuns Mason

A day later, the shock still hadn't worn off in the Beth Mason camp.

The councilwoman, who expected to win the Hoboken mayoral race, or at least qualify for a runoff election, finished a distant third to fellow council members Peter Cammarano and Dawn Zimmer.

"We were completely blindsided," Mason's campaign manager, Jake Stuiver, said of the 1,000-vote loss to the two candidates who will vie for City Hall in the June 9 runoff. "We had polling as late as over the weekend that still had (Mason) as the frontrunner by a significant margin, so I can't tell you how much we were taken by surprise."

Stuiver attributed Mason's loss to two things: Not building up her base and not getting Mason's message across to voters.

"This election clearly demonstrates that those are two things we didn't do well enough," said Stuiver. "And as campaign manager that's something for which I have to take responsibility."

Fewer than 100 votes separate top vote-getters

As many expected, Hoboken will have to wait until next month for its next mayor to be chosen. Council members Dawn Zimmer and Peter Cammarano will vie in a runoff June 9 to determine who will lead the city.

None of the six candidates running gained the 50 percent-plus-one votes needed to win the election, so the two top vote-getters, Cammarano, who came in first with 3,755 votes, and Zimmer with 3,671 will face off.

Zimmer said she was shocked she got into the runoff.

"I was feeling confident, but we hadn't done recent polling. People seemed supportive, but I wasn't sure," said the Fourth Ward councilwoman.

"We have accomplished our task - we are in the runoff election," Cammarano said to his supporters, which was met with cheers of "Peter, Peter!"

The Jersey Journal endorses Cammarano for Hoboken mayor

Jersey Journal endorses Councilman-at-Large Peter Cammarano for mayor of Hoboken in Tuesday's election.

This newspaper considers the 31-year-old attorney at the Newark law firm of Genova, Burns and Vernoia and the 2006 statewide legal coordinator for Robert Menendez's successful U.S. Senate campaign as Hoboken's best person for stabilizing local taxes and making certain the city's land use follows its Master Plan.

This election is a seminal moment for the Mile Square City. Voters will put a face on the government that they want to guide them out of a fiscal morass that requires state control of the city's finances and has led to a 23 percent increase in municipal taxes.

A major weakness in the lame duck administration of Mayor David Roberts has been its inability to find steady revenue streams. Rather than raise taxes or cut city services, the administration has relied on one-shot gimmicks, such as the sale and lease-back of the municipal garage. Worse, this past year's budget was badly underfunded and the City Council was kept in the dark about the state of the city's fiscal health.