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Menendez: Discord over secret tape growing in Senate race

Partisan opponents in the U.S. Senate race escalated their charges Friday as the race continued veering toward the negative some five weeks before Election Day.

Democratic supporters of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez accused Republicans of engaging in an unabashed campaign of "mudslinging" to avoid discussing serious national issues.

Republican backers of GOP challenger Tom Kean Jr. asked the state Attorney General's Office to investigate the connection between Menendez and a powerful North Jersey attorney, two days after the release of secretly taped conversations that have rocked the campaign.

FBI INFORMANT: Lobs 1999 ethics accusation at Sen. Menendez RACE GETS ROUGHER

TRENTON — The campaign of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was once again dogged by ethics accusations Thursday after an FBI informant released audiotapes of Menendez adviser Donald Scarinci pressuring the informant — in Menendez's name — to rehire a former employee or risk losing $1 million in Hudson County contracts.

Union City psychiatrist Oscar Sandoval, 55, says he was pressured in 1999 by Scarinci to hire a doctor, Vicente Ruiz. In a recorded conversation, Scarinci told Sandoval that Menendez, then a congressman representing Hudson County, would consider it "a favor." Failure to do so would result in "the law of the jungle" prevailing, Scarinci said.

• Sandoval Speaks For Himself


Menendez uproar stirs speculation As the senator's backers lash at critics, the GOP suggests he'll leave race

For the second time this month, ethical questions rocked the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, as Democrats rolled out the Gatling guns to take aim at critics of Sen. Robert Menendez and Republicans fanned talk of the senator dropping out of the race.

The frenetic state of the campaign came after yesterday's disclosure that Menendez's longtime friend and fund-raiser Donald Scarinci was secretly taped asking a psychiatrist with government contracts in Hudson County to hire a doctor as a "favor" to Menendez.

Former Attorney General Farber misses court date

A municipal prosecutor may ask a judge to cite former Attorney General Zulima Farber for contempt of court after she failed to appear today as a witness in a traffic case against her boyfriend, Hamlet Goore.

The case stems from the now-infamous Memorial Day weekend traffic stop in Bergen County in which Farber went to the aid of Goore after he was ticketed for driving on a suspended license. The incident ultimately led to Farber's resignation last month when a special prosecutor found she had violated state ethics rules by going to the scene.

But if city can't save St. Mary?

HOBOKEN - Officials from St. Mary Hospital, which is still in the process of a city takeover, have announced plans to spend tens of millions of dollars modernizing the 149-year-old facility, but say if those plans fail within a few years to produce cash, the city should consider closing the hospital's doors.

Menendez linked on tape to gov't contracts scheme

WASHINGTON (AP) — A childhood friend and close political adviser of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez used the senator's name to pressure a doctor to share his county government contract, and the doctor believed some of the money would be kicked back to Menendez, according to a transcript of the telephone call and court documents. Menendez campaign spokesman Matthew Miller called the allegations "completely false."

The transcript of the 1999 conversation, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, depicts an expletive- and chuckle-laden chat between Donald Scarinci, Menendez's friend and adviser, and Oscar Sandoval, a psychiatrist who taped the exchange as part of his work as an FBI informant in a criminal investigation of several northern New Jersey politicians.

Menendez: Audio: Tape adds to Menendez ethics debate

The following conversation was tape recorded by Dr. Oscar Sandoval, a North Jersey psychiatrist and former FBI informant, with lawyer Donald Scarinci in early 1999.

In it, Scarinci tells Sandoval that then U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez, now a member of the U.S. Senate, wanted him to hire a psychiatrist named Vicente Ruiz. Sandoval said the conversation amounted to a veiled threat. The implication was that he might lose his county contracts if he did not go along.

He also tells Sandoval that Hudson County government will not increase payments to cover the new position.

In this excerpt, Scarinci tells Sandoval that Menendez would consider it a favor if he hired Ruiz.

Scarinci says he got involved in the matter at Menendez's request.

Scarinci tells Sandoval that hiring the doctor will afford "protection." Sandoval has said that Scarinci was implying that he could protect his contracts with Hudson County if he hired the doctor.

Listening notes: To listen to this clip, you'll need one of these media players installed on your computer:

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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer  9/27/06

Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Tapes could be trouble for Menendez

The psychiatrist at the center of recent Hudson County corruption cases recorded U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez's close ally invoking the powerful Democrat's name while pressuring the doctor to divvy up county contracts, he and several others said Wednesday.

Dr. Oscar Sandoval, who bribed and then helped imprison a former county executive, said he made tapes that back up his earlier allegations that attorney and Menendez friend Donald Scarinci ordered him to share his county jail contracts with another physician, or else lose them.

ST. MARY New hospital panel to meet

The newly formed Hoboken Hospital Authority plans to hold its first public meeting tomorrow, ushering in a new period of community management at the beleaguered St. Mary Hospital.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the hospital's Assumption Hall.

The board is autonomous from the city and was created by special legislation that saved the hospital from closing. Mayor David Roberts appointed six board members and the hospital's medical staff selected two. The state Department of Community Affairs will fill out the nine-member board when it makes its selection.

Up in Smoke. N.J. loses $16 million in hedge-fund crash

New Jersey's foray into high-risk investing suffered a setback this week as the implosion of a Greenwich, Conn., hedge fund swallowed up about $16 million in state funds, including millions that had been in vested just weeks ago.