Jersey: The Most Politically Corrupt Place on Earth - NBC New York

Jersey: The Most Politically Corrupt Place on Earth

Garden State graft



    Jersey: The Most Politically Corrupt Place on Earth
    Getty Images
    So that's what stinks in Jersey...

    New Jersey didn't invent corruption, but there sure is enough in state politics to go around.

    Maybe it's because local politics get lost in the massive media markets of New York and Philadelphia. Maybe it's because so many small towns run a patchwork of municipalities that officials think they can get away with skimming off the top. Maybe it's because the voters don't know --or care -- what they're doing.

    Whatever the reason, corruption is commonplace in the country's 11th most populous state -- so much so that local papers have entire sections of their Web sites dedicated to the subject.

    On Thursday, dozens of politicians, including the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, as well as a handful of rabbis, were arrested by feds in a wide ranging probe that included bribery, money laundering and human organ trafficking. Here are just a few other notable corruption scandals in the Garden State over the past decade.
    July 2009: Prosecutors allege Assemblyman and former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas engaged in a scheme with a political adviser to funnel money through people who were given funds to make contributions. Vas was already accused of using his political influence to further a real estate deal that netted him nearly $300,000.
    September 2007: Two mayors, Samuel Rivera of Passaic and State Assemblyman Mims Hackett Jr. of Orange, and Assemblyman Alfred E. Steele were three of 11 public officials busted for taking cash bribes of $1,500 to $17,500 at a time from insurance brokerage and roofing companies in exchange for public contracts. Five current and former school board members and a city councilman were also charged.
    July 2007: Sharpe James, former mayor of Newark, New Jersey's largest city, for 21 years, opted not to run for re-election in April of 2007. Shortly thereafter, a federal investigation began into the sale of city lands and his use of city credit cards. He was indicted on July 12.
    July 2007: William Walker, former director of housing rehabilitation for the City of New Brunswick was arrested and charged in a 54-count indictment with extorting and accepting approximately $112,500 in corrupt cash payments, as well as cut-rate home improvements, in exchange for official favors.
    January 2007: Former Brick Township Mayor Joseph Scarpelli took more than $5,000 in cash in exchange for pushing for approval of a developer. 
    April 2005: Ex-Marlboro Matthew Scannapieco pleaded guilty to taking $245,000 in bribes in exchange for awarding public contracts to builders.
    April 2005: Nicknamed "Mr. Monmouth County" after serving the region almost 50 years, Harry Larrison Jr. was charged with asking developers to pay for a trip to Florida, among other expenses.
    February 2005: Former Middletown Township Mayor Ray O'Grady was videotaped taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent.
    September 2004: Former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo was convicted for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a city accountant and a city towing business owner during his two terms as mayor in exchange for contracts. He was ordered to pay back more than $300,000 and sentenced to more than two years in prison.
    January 2004: Detective Norman Price was charged with stealing equipment purchases and created companies to provide equipment at grossly inflated prices. 
    January 2004: Former Essex County Executive James Treffinger served a 130-month prison term after admitting that he used county funds to pay Republican campaign workers and obstructing a federal probe into his campaign finances. 
    January 2004: Mayor of Hainesport Ronald Corn embezzled more than $339,000 from public accounts to pay for golf outings, parties, meals and expenses in cahoots with the township of finance director, Kristine Wisnewski.
    June 2003: Former New Hanover Township Administrator James J. Nash pleaded guilty to causing fabricated vendors' quotes to be submitted to the New Hanover Township Board of Education to steer a federally funded 1999 contract to a relative of another township official.
    May 2003: Former Essex County Executive Jim Treffinger plead guilty to a slew of graft charges.
    December 2002: Hudson County Official Bill Braker asked a doctor who was trying to score a contract with the county to provide health-care services for cash and unlimited prescriptions for Viagra.
    December 2002: Richard Vuola, a former Malboro Township official, was charged with offering about $150,000 in campaign funding to a member of the Marlboro Township Council in exchange for support of land-use ordinances necessary to allow development of property at the former Marlboro Airport site.
    November 2002: Sen. Bob Torricelli had to drop his re-election bid after the Senate Ethics Committee detailed his improper relationship with a donor.
    October 2002: Former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski admitted to taking more than $100,000 in bribes while he was the county's top elected official. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison and $40,000 in fines.
    June 2002: Former North Bergen Township administrator and North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority director of operations Joseph Auriemma was indicted for accepting more than $35,000 in cash payments and free work on his residences and for attempted witness tampering.
    April 2002: Former Burlington Township mayor Joseph Foy operated a for-profit golf tournament to benefit himself. The proceeds were deposited into his personal bank accounts and used for personal expenses. Foy failed to report the income on his tax returns and got busted by the IRS for tax evasion.
    December 2000: Former Camden mayor Milton Milan was convicted of various corruption charges, including soliciting bribes from mobsters and staging a fake burglary to commit fraud.