Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano is among top New Jersey politicians and dozens of others in the Garden State and Brooklyn - including five rabbis - who were nailed Thursday in a wide-sweeping probe of an international money laundering ring.
In all, 44 people were charged during raids connected to an alleged scheme operating between Brooklyn, N.Y., Deal, N.J., and Israel that police believe laundered tens of millions of dollars through charities controlled by area rabbis.
In addition to Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Denis Elwell, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Baldini, Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega and two state assemblymen were among those rounded up by the FBI and expected to be arraigned.
Apparently, as Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, Kwame Kilpatrick and other high-profile politicians can attest, public service and shady behavior go hand-in-hand!
Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra said the arrests underscore "more than ever the pervasive nature of public corruption in this state," adding that in New Jersey, "corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone."
Highlights of the takedown of Peter Cammarano and others:
- Peter Cammarano, only in office about three weeks, who was charged with accepting $25,000 in bribes, including $10,000 just last Thursday.
- Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith is being charged, with an aide, for taking $15,000 in bribes to secure building approvals, per the investigation.
- Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, charged with accepting a $10,000 bribe. Numerous rabbis from synagogues in Brooklyn and Deal were charged with laundering proceeds from criminal activities through their charities.
- One Brooklyn man, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, is even accused of trafficking in (yes) human organs, having convinced vulnerable people to donate their kidneys for $10,000 and selling them for $160,000 to recipients, prosecutors said.
Wow, that's a new one. There's no explaining that away, Levy.