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Archive for July 24th, 2009

Ex-U.S. Atty. Christie Could Benefit From News of Latest N.J. Corruption

Public corruption has long plagued New Jersey. Now it’s certain to come up in the governor’s race.

Christopher Christie

Christopher Christie

Claire Heininger, Josh Margo and Josh Margolin
Newark Star-Ledger

A week ago, Gov. Jon Corzine was riding high, beaming onstage as President Obama heartily endorsed his re-election.

Yesterday, a grim-faced Corzine stepped to another podium to address a very different topic: political corruption — a hammer his Republican opponent, Chris Christie, has been using for months.

The allegations leveled against a host of public officials roiled the landscape of an already contentious governor’s race between Corzine and Christie, the former U.S. attorney who built his reputation on sending politicians to jail.

While both candidates shied away from talking about the politics of the arrests, officials in both parties said Christie will benefit from the return of corruption to the headlines in a race dominated by the economy.

Christie already leads Corzine by double digits in several recent polls.

“Christie doesn’t even have to talk about public corruption — public corruption is what people are going to see, hear about and hear more about for the next month at least,” said New York-based Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked in New Jersey.

For Full Story

Christie’s Anti-Corruption Ad

Drug Czar Says Feds Are Not Pulling Back on Busting Marijuana Farms

Confusion continues to reign over the nation’s policy on marijuana. California lawmakers want to tax the crop. The feds are against legalization. In Fresno County, Calif., federal and local agents in the past 10 days have seized more than $1 billion in marijuana crops and arrested 82 people.

By Marc Benjamin
The Fresno Bee

The federal government is not going to pull back on its efforts to curtail marijuana farming operations, Gil  marijuana-umledu2Kerlikowske, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Wednesday in Fresno.

The nation’s drug czar, who viewed a foothill marijuana farm on U.S. Forest Service land with state and local officials earlier Wednesday, said the federal government will not support legalizing marijuana.

“Legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary, and it’s not in mine,” he said.

Kerlikowske said he can understand why legislators are talking about taxing marijuana cultivation to help cash-strapped government agencies in California. But the federal government views marijuana as a harmful and addictive drug, he said.

“Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit,” Kerlikowske said in downtown Fresno while discussing Operation SOS — Save Our Sierra — a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County.

Marijuana plants valued at more than $1.26 billion have been confiscated and 82 people arrested over the past 10 days in Fresno County. The operation started last week and is continuing.

For Full Story

More on The N.J. Corruption: A Made for Hollywood Movie

Well Hollywood, have it. This case has it all —  and then some. I nominate Joe Pesci to play one of the small town mayors.

Hoboken MAyor Cammarano/city photo

Hoboken Mayor Cammarano/city photo

By Ted Sherman and Joe Ryan
The Newark Star-Ledger
NEWARK — The bribes went down in diners, living rooms and parking lots. New Jersey Assemblymen took them, mayors took them, and so did dozens of others.

Orthodox rabbis, acting more like crime bosses than religious leaders, laundered millions through synagogues and yeshivas in Deal, one of the state’s wealthiest towns. And a Realtor tried to sell an informant a black market kidney for $160,000.

Those were some of the allegations federal prosecutors made today (Thurs) in what could prove to be the biggest New Jersey scandal of them all.

The revelations came after hundreds of federal agents swept across the state, arresting public servants and religious leaders as part of a two-year investigation into corruption and international money-laundering that authorities described as unprecedented – even in a state known for its scandals.

It was a sting operation that could have been taken from the pages of an Elmore Leonard novel: the FBI and IRS agents arrested five rabbis, two New Jersey state legislators, three mayors, political operatives, and many others, as part of a probe that spanned from Hoboken to Israel.

For Full Story

U.S. Attorney, FBI hold press conference on corruption arrests

Ex-Fla Judge Pleads Guilty to Fed Charges of Bank Fraud Involving Home he Bought With Stripper

As a judge, one of the words you probably don’t want associated with your legacy is “stripper”, or for that matter “fraud”. Unfortunately, for Fla. Appeals Court Judge Thomas Stringer, those words will forever stick with him.

Judge Thomas Striner Sr.

Judge Thomas Stringer Sr.

By Colleen Jenkins
St. Petersburg Times
TAMPA – Former appeals Judge Thomas E. Stringer Sr. has agreed to plead guilty to a federal bank fraud charge that arose from a Hawaii home he bought with a stripper.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Stringer on Thursday with fraudulently obtaining a $350,000 mortgage for the residence.

Stringer, who resigned from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in February amid questions about his financial dealings, admitted in a plea agreement that he lied on the loan application.

For Full Story