Thursday, July 23, 2009

From the State House to the Big House

Come on down! You're the next contestants on the Bribe is Right!
Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria's home and office were raided this morning by federal officials as part of the sweeping FBI and IRS probe that has resulted in the arrests of 30 people, including Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt and two mayors.
Contestants' Row now features the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, and the former mayor of Bayonne. According to the news, the investigation involved money laundering from Brooklyn to the Jersey Shore, including several rabbis at the Deal Yeshiva.

Not surprisingly, they mention first Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), who is also the mayor of Ocean Township. (What, double-dipping isn't enough, you also have to steal?) But to the credit of the Star-Ledger, they don't shy away from the party affiliations when it's the Dems' turn.

Waiting for their turn at the showcase are Jersey City's own Mariano Vega and Leona Beldini, but since one is a Council President and the other a Deputy Mayor, they have to wait until Van Pelt and the other heavy-hitters see the next item up for bids. And if you get within fifty cigarettes without going over, you win BOTH showcases!

UPDATED, 1:11 PM - holy smokes...
In separate money-laundering complaints, several individuals from Brooklyn and New Jersey were charged with offenses ranging from the trafficking of kidneys from Israeli donors to laundering proceeds from selling fake Gucci and Prada bags. It was not immediately clear how the money-laundering arrests were connected to the corruption arrests.

NBC affiliate WNBC reported that the kidney trafficking involved patients paying middlemen to find willing donors in Israel. Investigators allege that the suspects had donors and patients lie to hospitals by saying that they were related. Hospitals would do the operation unaware that cash payments were part of the deal.

The common thread seems to be that the actual money transfers caught the eye of the investigators, especially in the international cases.

There's a news conference going on right now in Newark trying to explain the whole shebang.

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