New Jersey government corruption
|Report It •||The Good •||The Bad •||The Ugly|
The corruption scandal connected money laundering operations between Brooklyn, N.Y.; Deal, N.J.; and Israel. There was an alleged tens of millions of dollars filtered through Jewish charities that rabbis controlled in New York and New Jersey.
Prosecutors utilized an informant, a real estate developer charged with bank fraud three years ago, to help them ascertain corrupt politicians by having the informant pose as a crooked businessman. The informant then paid a string of public officials tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to get approvals for buildings and other New Jersey projects.
Trenton, NJ A welcome news story out of New Jersey that we have been watching develop for the past few months. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed Assembly Bill 559 into law. AB-559 sets uniform state-wide fees for copies of records, for instance a standard letter sized page would be 5 cents and legal sized pages would be 7 cents. Additionally electronic materials would be required to be distributed at no cost.
Update Dover, NJ This past week during the final vote, the board rejected the proposed law, and instead adopted a more open policy towards video recording. In a 5-4 vote the board rejected all of the restrictions placed on individuals who may want to record the proceedings including the controversial provision requiring the surrender of the video tape for three days upon exiting the meeting.
Trenton, NJ This past week a New Jersey Court of Appeals ruled that the state's League of Municipalities was not subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act because it did not perform a governmental function, despite the fact that a majority of its funding comes from municipalities and therefor tax-payers. The ruling in the case of Fair Share Housing Center v. New Jersey League of Municipalities will be appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court according to the legal council for the Fair Share Housing Center.
Trenton NJ A New Jersey state appellate panel issued a ruling this past week in the case of Burnett (Cimino) v. Gloucester County, determining that insurance settlements reached by insurance providers for government entities are in fact public records subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act. The panel reversed the decision made in superior court and remanded the case back to superior court to examine the question of whether the county had succeeded in finding all the settlement records for the requested period of time. 
Kenny admitted to meeting the government informant on two separate occasions; March 23rd and 30th of 2009. At the meetings, Kenny was deceived into believing that the government informant was a real estate developer who had an interest in promoting a condominium project. The government informant offered Kenny two payments of $2,500 on the condition that Kenny would use his political clout to work on behalf of approvals for his buildings. Kenny accepted both payments. He then donated the money to his campaign fund .
TRENTON, New Jersey: The New Jersey State Auditor's Office has expressed concern about the apparent lack of transparency state officials have had about the state's $17 billion share of stimulus funding. In an effort to increase transparency and encourage accountability, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included provisions for states to demonstrate their transparency about how the state funds are spent through creation of informative web sites.
However, according to the non-profit research group Good Jobs First, most states are not doing well. In a recent study, average state websites rated 28.2 out of 100 in terms of transparency, with only 6 states above 50. Among the features that were evaluated were jobs data, project and program status, spending flows, distribution of funds within the state, contract award processes, and user friendliness of the sites. Less than half of the state sites provided detailed information about stimulus projects and only 4 states included information about jobs created. 
Last week, Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, 32, was arrested and accused of taking $25,000 in bribes. Friday he resigned, less than a month after he was sworn in.
There were 40 people arrested in the ground breaking New Jersey scandal after a federal probe uncovered the political corruption, human organ sales and money laundering linking New York and Israel.
The public officials accused in the scandal face charges of taking bribes in exchange for helping to get permits and projects prioritized and approved. They are also charged with steering contracts to the witness.
"Regrettably, it has turned out that the controversy surrounding the charges against me has become a distraction to me and an impediment to the functioning of Hoboken government," Cammarano, a Democrat, said in his resignation letter.
"I am innocent of any criminal charges and I intend to fight the allegations against me."
The audit revealed bad hiring practices, especially those related to the hiring of Superintendent Nicholas Brown. Brown was hired in May of 2005 despite not having the proper certification to serve as Superintendent. Also there is currently no contract on file for the length of Brown's contract which was supposed to last from May 4, 2007 through May 3, 2011.
Despite the lack of contract, when Brown resigned in January of 2008, he demanded $65,124.78 for unused vacation and sick days which the board paid.
Bryant was a Camden County Democrat senator who served for 25 years. He was convicted of fraud and bribery for taking a low-work job at the School of Osteopathic Medicine at UMDNJ in exchange for siphoning $10.5 million in state funding toward the Stratford school as head of the Senate Budget Committee.
The former senator was also convicted of pension fraud for sending law firm associates to work as a solicitor in his stead for the Gloucester County Board of Social Services. He acquired about $50,000 a year for this function, done by these lawyers.
- While Superintendents may be offered a car as a benefit, it may not be a luxury vehicle
- Bonuses must be given in a official manner, not without a process
- The school may hire only one janitor for every 17,500 square feet
If these are not met, the school risks losing state aid.
Reid entered his guilty plea just one week into his federal trial. His decision came after the government's key undercover witness played video and audio recordings of Reid accepting bribes.
In response to the plea, Reid's Attorney Michael Pedicini said, "A decision was made that it was Keith's best interest to acknowledge his mistakes." While he was accused of taking $10,000 in bribes, Reid admitted to accepting over $15,000 in exchange for his influence over lawmakers. Reid agreed to convince public officials in Newark and Irvington to steer insurance brokerage business to a fake company that was actually created and run by the FBI.
In 2002, Bryant solicited a job from Stuart Cook, the then president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Michael Gallagher, a former dean, set up a rigged hiring process to get Bryant a "low-show" job there for $35,000 a year.
Prosecutors said Bryant had practically no actual responsibility at the job, while witnesses testified that he would sometimes show up on Tuesdays, read the paper and talk on the phone, but do no actual work. However, during the years he worked there, he increased state funding to the school by at least $10.5 million.
For his part in the scheme, Gallagher was convicted on one bribery charge and 5 mail fraud charges.
Many critics have found New Jersey lacking in the field of transparency. Currently the Treasury's website contains some information, including a "Citizen's guide to the budget," but has no details on revenues and expenditures, and is not updated in real time.
Pennacchio's proposal aims to change that - "Whenever the state spends one dime of taxpayer money, it has to put it on a user-friendly Web site. That way everybody can see where their money is being spent. It's bringing transparency into the 21st century, making it easier for taxpayers to see how that money is being spent."
Tina Renna of Cranford, NJ was refused information by Union County because they would not recognize her March 13, 2006 e-mail as a valid means of asking for the public information. Renna sought a copy of a government resolution, Union County Resolution No. 42- 2005.
"The state's medical university, which spends more than $1 million a year for pagers and cellular phones, cannot account for many of them, according to a confidential internal audit.
The auditors, whose report was obtained by The Star-Ledger, found the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey was paying for cell phones still held by terminated employees, and also was paying for expanded services -- such as cell phone picture messaging -- that the auditors questioned. Their report also said the university is not tracking personal phone usage by its employees -- a violation of Internal Revenue Service regulations."
At issue was the request in Bergen County of nearly 8 million pages in land title records dating to 1984 by a company that creates electronic databases for the information. The cost of providing all the requested copies would have been about $19,000. But the high court gave permission to the clerk to charge more than $460,000 to block out Social Security numbers on the documents."
"A North Jersey county clerk is allowed to charge a company more than $460,000 to block out Social Security numbers on 22 years of land transaction records, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.
At issue is a request to the Bergen County clerk for 8 million pages of land title records dating to 1984 by Data Trace Services, a technology company that operates land record databases in 25 states and sells electronic access to the data it gathers."
"The state's highest court told Bergen County yesterday to release 8 million pages of real estate documents -- including mortgage information -- to fulfill a request filed under the state's public records law, but that Social Security numbers included in them must be kept private.
The justices also said the company requesting the information should pay the $460,000 it will cost the county to remove the Social Security numbers from records spanning more than two decades."
"Release the documents.
That was the order from a judge to township officials who denied a public records request filed by a resident who is a frequent critic of local officials.
The resident, Larry Loigman, had asked for a list of documents relating to financial transactions between the town and former township manager David R. Kochel. When Ocean Township refused to provide most of those documents, Loigman, a general-practice attorney, filed suit Feb. 25 in state Superior Court, Monmouth County."
State of New Jersey
Open Public Records Act | Transparency Checklist | Government corruption reports | Transparency Legislation | Open Records procedures | Transparency Advocates | Transparency blogs | State budget | Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations |
<ref>tags exist, but no
<references/>tag was found