Ridgefield, N.J., Mayor Anthony R. Suarez, center, is walked Thursday, July 23, 2009, in Newark, N.J., to a waiting bus outside FBI offices after being arrested.
And as voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide his fate in a recall election, many were wearing their emotions on their sleeves.
"What the Mayor has done to this town since he's been elected is a crime," said one voter, Bruce Nicolotta, who said he had lived in the Borough for 23 years.
"I would like to see [this town] restored to where we once were," Nicolotta added.
But just as forcefully, another voter, Idania Pena, came to the defense of Mayor Suarez.
"He's innocent until they prove [him] guilty," said Pena, who was born in Cuba. "I do believe we are in America, not in Cuba," she added, noting that he should have his day in court before there should be any recall election.
Suarez was indicted last summer as part of Operation Bid Rig, the largest corruption sweep ever in a state notorious for public corruption.
Two other mayors were arrested and both resigned soon after under pressure from then-Governor Jon Corzine.
Peter Camarano, former mayor of Hoboken plead guilty, while Dennis Elwell, former mayor of Secaucus awaits his trial.
Suarez expects to go before a jury this Fall, but has refused to resign as he has proclaimed his innocence.
His indictment refers to a $10,000 payoff from an undercover FBI cooperating witness in return for official influence to help what turned out to be a non-existent development project.
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