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Tag: New Jersey

Columnist: Federal Charges Against Sen. Menendez Are ‘Avoidable Mistake’

Robert Menendez

By Gerald Krovatin
Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

Let’s take a deep breath and put the indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in perspective.

Every few years, the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department in Washington seems to bring a case against a high-profile elected official that turns out to be a waste of time and resources. From the unsuccessful prosecution of former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy to the train wreck of a case against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to the bewildering charges against former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), when the dust settles, the prosecutions have ended up posing more of a threat to public confidence in the Justice Department and its judgment than anything else.

This year, the “public integrity” roulette wheel has stopped on Sen. Menendez. And, like many of the cases that have come before it, the prosecution of Sen. Menendez has all the signs of being another foreseeable and avoidable mistake.

In the case just filed, the prosecutors have charged Sen. Menendez with accepting gifts from Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. The government contends that, in exchange for these gifts, Sen. Menendez met with administration officials to advance his friend’s interests in a Medicare billing dispute and a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.

But according to news reports and a court opinion already decided during the investigation, the senator and Melgen have also been close personal friends for more than two decades. Their relationship reportedly includes weddings, funerals and other family events that close friends typically share with each other.

This friendship poses a serious legal problem for the government. How can the government prove that any efforts by Sen. Menendez on behalf of his friend were caused by any gifts, as opposed to their long-standing personal friendship? And, if the Justice Department now is charging that soliciting or receiving campaign contributions is the quid pro quo of corruption, it better abolish our current system of raising political money or build a whole lot more jail cells for contributors and candidates.

Gerald Krovatin is a criminal defense attorney and a past president of the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey.

To read more click here. 

Grand Jury Indicts Sen. Menendez on Corruption Charges Involving Doctor

Robert Menendez

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was indicted on corruption charges Wednesday, marking the first time a sitting U.S. senator has been criminally charged since Alaska’s Ted Stevens in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The 61-year-old Democrat and key opponent of President Obama’s key foreign-policy initiatives said he was “outraged” by the charges, which came after a two-year investigation by the FBI.

The focus of the probe was on the senator and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

“Prosecutors at the Justice Department do not know the difference between friendship and corruption,”Menendez said. “I’m confident at the end of the day I will be vindicated and they will be exposed.”

The grand jury handed down a 14-count indictment, which alleges Menendez used his authority to help Dr. Melgen in exchange for campaign contributions.

Other Stories of Interest


Real Life ‘Bada Bing’ Boss Gets His Reward For Spilling The Beans About The Mob

Anthony (Tony Lodi) Cardinalle (Gang Land News photo)

Jerry Capeci is a former New York Daily News reporter and mob expert. Gang Land News is a paid subscription site. This article is published with permission.
 
By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

A mob associate who ran the Bada Bing — the Lodi, New Jersey strip club that served as headquarters for fictional TV mobster Tony Soprano — is headed to the jailhouse. But it’s just for a short stretch, one he could almost do standing on his head, or one of the other gymnastic stances practiced by his bare-chested dancers in the jiggle joint on Route 17.

Anthony (Tony Lodi) Cardinalle will serve a 30 day prison term for spilling his guts about a real Garden State mob crew that was run for years by powerhouse Genovese capo Tino Fiumara.

The light sentence is Cardinalle’s punishment for having introduced the undercover operative in the FBI’s three year investigation of the waste hauling industry in New York and New Jersey to a key soldier in Fiumara’s “Lodi crew.” Cardinalle, is slated to begin his short stretch behind bars at an undisclosed federal prison next week.

Manhattan Federal Judge P. Kevin Castel imposed sentence after the feds lauded Cardinalle’s cooperation, and his lawyer submitted 40 letters of praise about the “gentleman’s club” guru. The letters flowed in from family,friends, employees, law enforcement officials, as well as the Mayor of Lodiand Johnny Pacheco, the legendary musician/bandleader dubbed the father of Salsa Music.

Castel also fined the 63-year-old Cardinalle $10,000 and ordered restitution of the $3400 that he extorted from Charles Hughes, the FBI informer in the case. Cardinalle is the last of 19 convicted mobsters and associates who have been sentenced in the case. The charges against ten others were all dropped.

Like virtually every letter writer, Pacheco cited two important reasons why Cardinalle deserved a break: His friend is a loving family man, the music man said, one who is the primary support of a 32-year-old daughter afflicted with cerebral palsy, Tonielle. He is also a charitable, all-around good guy whenever friends, relatives, workers, business associates and even total strangers find themselves in need of a loan, a job, a place to stay, or a shoulder to lean on, Pacheco added.

Read more »

Investigation of Democratic Senator Gives New Chances to DOJ’s Public Integrity Section

Robert Menendez

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The revamped anti-corruption unit of the Justice Department ha an opportunity to redeem itself in the federal corruption investigation of Sen. Robert Menendez, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The top leadership of the Public Integrity Section resigned after an embarrassing slip up led to the dismissal of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens’ conviction.

“Now the unit — created in the Watergate era to ferret out political corruption — has the chance to restore its tattered reputation with what is likely to be its first prosecution of a sitting U.S. senator since Stevens,” The Times wrote.

The Justice Department is expected soon to decide whether to charge the New Jersey Democrat, who is accused of receiving gifts in exchange for helping a Florida doctor’s business in the Caribbean.

“I think the Public Integrity Section got totally gun-shy after Stevens,” said Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who is a lawyer for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. “Since Stevens, they prosecuted John Edwards for a nonexistent crime, and they failed to prosecute John Ensign for clearly established ones.”

 

FBI Lab Lost Hair Sample in Arson Case Against New Jersey Police Officer

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Prosecutors may have a tougher time proving their case against a New Jersey police officer accused of setting a captain’s front porch ablaze because the FBI lab lost a critical hair sample collected at the scene, NJ.com reports.

Edison Police Officer Michael Dotro was charged with aggravated arson and five counts of attempted murder for allegedly setting the fire at the home of Capt. Mark Anderko.

“Taken together, the lost hair and the sample that excluded Dotro could make it more difficult for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to prove the officer started the fire,” NJ.com wrote.

Prosecutors have said Dotro, a 14-year veteran with a long disciplinary history, lied about his whereabouts during the fire.

“We don’t think there’s sufficient evidence to tie Mr. Dotro to the arson, and it is our belief that because of the lack of evidence, they’ve brought additional indictments which would not normally be prosecuted but for the fact it is the Edison Police Department and Mr. Dotro,” Dotro’s lawyer, Robert Norton, said.

Prosecutors declined to comment.

 

 

Will First Woman on FBI’s Most Wanted List Be Extradited from Cuba?

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

As relations between Cuba and the U.S. continue to improve, a big question lingers: Will the first woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List be extradited to face life in prison in America?

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Assata Shakur, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, may be extradited because of the improved relations.

Shakur was a member of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panther Party and was welcomed into Cuba as a fellow socialist with asylum.

It remains unclear whether Cuba would turn over Shakur, but some legal experts said it’s unlikely since she was labeled a political refugee.

FBI Director Comey Was Held Captive by ‘Ramsey rapist’ While a Teen in New Jersey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey knows a thing or two about being a victim of a crime.

While a high school senior, Comey was held captive in his Allendale, New Jersey home by a notorious criminal known as “Ramsey rapist” in 1977.

Comey made the comments on “60 Minutes” while talking about terrorism threats.

“I was a high school senior and home alone one night with my younger brother, and a guy – a gunman – kicked in our front door at our home in New Jersey and held the two of us captive,” Comey said.

“We escaped, he caught us again, we escaped again – so it was a pretty horrific experience,” the FBI director said. “Frightening to anybody, but especially for a younger person to be threatened with a gun and to believe you’re going to be killed by this guy.”

He added: “He got away. My recollection is he was part of a pattern of rapes and robberies, home invasions, rapes and robberies in that area of Northern New Jersey.”

Comey said the “incident most affects me in giving me a sense of what victims feel. Even the notion that no one was physically harmed doesn’t mean no one was harmed, because I thought about that guy every night for five years.”

No Evidence Found to Prove NJ Gov. Christie Knew in Advance of Lane Closures on George Washington Bridge

Gov. Chris Christie/state photo

Chris Christie

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has found no evidence that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew in advance of traffic lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, the New York Daily News reports.

The investigation is nine-months old, and no evidence has surfaced to suggest Christie was involved in what has brome known as the Bridgegate scandal.

The lane shutdowns caused serious problems for commuters.

It was later discovered that Christie’s staffer and a Port Authority officials were elated, raising questions about whether the shutdown was political payback for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee not endorsing Christie.

Other Stories of Interest