Corruption Charges Dropped Against NJ Pol

A second person charged in a massive federal corruption sting in New Jersey is a free man.

In a court filing Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office dismissed its case against Richard Greene, who served as an aide to former state Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith. Greene had been charged with extortion conspiracy, a crime that carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

Smith, meanwhile, is scheduled to go to trial next week on extortion, bribery and money laundering charges. Jonathan Meinen, an attorney representing Smith, said Wednesday he expects Greene to testify for the government against his former boss.

“We are fully prepared'' for Greene's testimony, Meinen said.

Forty-six people were arrested last year in an investigation dubbed Operation Bid Rig; among them were nearly two dozen public officials, plus prominent rabbis and members of Syrian Orthodox communities in New Jersey and Brooklyn, N.Y.

The public officials were accused of participating in a cash-for-influence scheme and taking bribes from admitted real estate swindler Solomon Dwek, a government informant who secretly recorded meetings and phone conversations for more than two years.

Since the arrests, about half the defendants have pleaded guilty or been convicted. One, Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, was acquitted last month.

The criminal complaint alleges that Greene took $5,000 from Dwek in the parking lot of a Bayonne restaurant in April 2009 and gave it to Smith while sitting in Smith's car. In the restaurant, Dwek had spoken to Smith about a fictitious development project he was pursuing in Jersey City, which is in Smith's district. Smith is accused of taking an additional $10,000 from Dwek through a different intermediary after a July 2009 meeting at a Hoboken diner.

The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on Greene's case.

Chester Keller, a federal public defender representing Greene, didn't comment on the specifics of the case but said he was ``very happy for Richard. Richard's a good man.''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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