August 27, 2005
Corruption Roundup: New Jersey
If it's Saturday, then it is time for a dose of corruption cases. Here are two from New Jersey, a reliable source of such prosecutions:
- Paul Zambrano, the former Mayor of West Long Branch, NJ, entered a guilty plea to accepting a bribe. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office press release (here): "At his plea hearing, Zambrano admitted that, during his tenure as mayor in West Long Branch, from September 2003 to November 17, 2004, he accepted cash payments totaling $15,000 dollars from a confidential FBI informant and an undercover FBI agent, to reward him for helping obtain public contracts in West Long Branch and other places. Zambrano stated that he accepted the payments believing that the cooperating informant was an individual involved in the contracting and demolition business and that the undercover agent was one of his employees. Zambrano also admitted that he accepted the cash payments knowing the payments were intended to reward him for helping the cooperating informant and the undercover agent to obtain public contracts in West Long Branch and in other municipalities where Zambrano introduced the cooperating informant and the undercover agent to public officials.
- Harry Parkin, the former chief of staff to the Mercer Country Executive and a former member of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, received a 90-month prison term after a jury convicted him of violating the mail fraud statute (right of honest services). According to the USAO press release (here): "In reaching the guilty verdicts, the jury found that Parkin schemed to deprive the public of his honest services in several ways: by concealing a $150,000 loan that he made for the benefit of Central Jersey Waste and Recycling (CJWR), a Hamilton company that collected recyclables from Mercer County residents; by working to steer demolition contracts in order to protect and advance his secret financial interests; and by attempting to obtain an ownership interest in CJWR through extortion. According to testimony, in September 2000, Parkin, then chief of staff to the Mercer County Executive, discussed with Alex Abdalla and James Lambert his desire to obtain a secret one-third ownership interest in CJWR, which was in the first year of a five-year, $14.5 million contract in Mercer County. Parkin sought to partner with Abdalla, the owner of CJWR, and Lambert, the former executive director of the Mercer County Improvement Authority, in his efforts to acquire his secret ownership interest in CJWR."
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