A two-year corruption and international money-laundering investigation stretching from the New Jersey shore to Brooklyn to Israel and Switzerland culminated in charges against 44 people yesterday, including three New Jersey mayors, two state assemblymen, and five rabbis, authorities said, The Boston Globe reports.
Among those arrested were legislators L. Harvey Smith (D) and Daniel M. Van Pelt (R); Hoboken Mayor Peter J. Cammarano III; Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell; and Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, as well as the deputy mayor and council president of Jersey City. The arrested rabbis included Saul Kassin, the chief rabbi for the tight-knit Syrian Jewish community in the United States, and the chief rabbis of synagogues in Brooklyn and Deal, N.J., The Washington Post reports.
Reacting the case, Ed Kahrer, head of the FBI’s public corruption division in New Jersey, said the case shows that “corruption is a cancer that is destroying the core values of this state.” The state has seen more than 130 public officials plead guilty or be convicted of corruption since 2001, according to the Associated Press.
Waysun Dun, head of the bureau’s Newark office, said the case was “truly unprecedented” because of the number of those accused and the variety and geographic spread of their alleged crimes.
Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat whose re-election bid could be affected by the indictments, issued a statement saying, “Any corruption is unacceptable — anywhere, anytime, by anybody. The scale of corruption we’re seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated,” Detroit Free Press reports.