Monday, July 27, 2009

Corruption New Jersey style, complete with body parts trafficking

A two-year corruption and international money-laundering investigation stretching from the Jersey Shore to Brooklyn to Israel and Switzerland culminated in charges against 44 people on Thursday, including three New Jersey mayors, two state assemblymen and five rabbis, the authorities said.

The case began with bank fraud charges against a member of an insular Syrian Jewish enclave centered in a seaside town. But when that man became a federal informant and posed as a crooked real estate developer offering cash bribes to obtain government approvals, it mushroomed into a political scandal that could rival any of the most explosive and sleazy episodes in New Jersey’s recent past.

It was replete with tales of the illegal sales of body parts; of furtive negotiations in diners, parking lots and boiler rooms; of nervous jokes about “patting down” a man who turned out to indeed be an informant; and, again and again, of the passing of cash — once in a box of Apple Jacks cereal stuffed with $97,000.

“For these defendants, corruption was a way of life,” Ralph J. Marra Jr., the acting United States attorney in New Jersey, said at a news conference. “They existed in an ethics-free zone.” Mr. Marra said that average citizens “don’t have a chance” against the culture of influence peddling the investigation had unearthed.

As 44 people walked before cameras last week, their hands in cuffs, after they were arrested in the state’s biggest corruption scandal in years — but not, to be sure, that many years — even their most scandal-fatigued constituents, from the gritty precincts of Journal Square in Jersey City to the glittering new condominiums on the Hudson in Hoboken, began to wonder: Why is New Jersey so unshakably corrupt?

That answer, it turns out, has as many nuances as corruption itself. Interviews with law enforcement officials, prosecutors and, perhaps the best authority on the subject — those arrested in previous sweeps, like Mr. Botti — reveal a culture of corruption so ingrained that it has become impossible to resist when the envelope appears.

  • "44 Charged by U.S. in New Jersey Corruption Sweep", New York Times, 7/23/09.
  • "The Man Who Sank New Jersey", Forbes, 7/23/09.
  • "With arrests, New Jersey stakes claim as corruption capital", Christian Science Monitor, 7/23/09.
  • "The beautiful side of New Jersey corruption", Time, 7/24/09.
  • "Officials decry New Jersey corruption", Time, 7/24/09.
  • "In New Jersey, Ideal Conditions for Corruption", New York Times, 7/26/09.
  • "About That New Jersey Organ Scandal", Wall Street Journal, 7/26/09.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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