FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – Jersey City, N.J., consultant Joseph Cardwell admitted today to agreeing to provide a $10,000 bribe payment to a Jersey City official in order to influence that official regarding real estate development matters in Jersey City, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Cardwell, 69, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Jose L. Linares to an Indictment charging him with aiding and abetting the offer and giving of, and agreeing to give, a bribe to a Jersey City public official.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between July 2008 and March 2009, Cardwell participated in several recorded meetings and telephone calls with Solomon Dwek, an FBI cooperating witness posing as a residential real estate developer. At one meeting, Cardwell accepted a $10,000 cash payment from Dwek to introduce him to public officials – whom Dwek described as “takers” he could own – to assist him in obtaining approvals for his purported real estate development projects. Pursuant to that arrangement, Cardwell set up several meetings with Dwek and a Jersey City public official.
At an August 6, 2008, meeting, Cardwell was informed that Dwek intended to give the Jersey City official “10 up front,” which Cardwell understood to mean a $10,000 corrupt cash payment in exchange for the official’s assistance. Cardwell assured Dwek that the official could obtain the approvals, saying, “all the things where you need approvals from come under him.” In providing advice on how Dwek should pass the cash payment to the official, Cardwell told the him to say, “I want to help out any way I can,” and that he should give the official “whatever he wants, however he wants.” Cardwell also agreed to test the waters to gauge the official’s receptiveness to the payment.
Cardwell admitted to setting up an August 14, 2008, meeting at a Jersey City restaurant so Dwek could offer the official $10,000 in cash. At the outset of the meeting, Cardwell spoke to the official for several minutes away from Dwek. During the meeting, Dwek accompanied the official to the parking lot where Cardwell knew the cash offer was to take place. When Dwek informed Cardwell that the official did not take the payment, Cardwell assured him he would handle it, and that the official was just being cautious. The official later returned to the August 14, 2008 meeting, where Cardwell spoke to him again outside of the Dwek’s presence. At the conclusion of the meeting, Cardwell assured Dwek that the official was on board, but wanted to go through Cardwell because he didn’t know Dwek.
The next day, Cardwell met Dwek in a Jersey City parking lot where he accepted two $10,000 cash payments – one for Cardwell and one intended as a corrupt cash payment to the Jersey City official. Cardwell reiterated that he would handle the payment to the official.
At a September 5, 2008, meeting in Jersey City, Cardwell told Dwek that the Jersey City official had instructed Cardwell to use the $10,000 for the official’s benefit to take care of a second Jersey City public official by purchasing tickets to fund raisers for the second Jersey City official’s re-election campaign.
As part of the plea agreement, Cardwell agreed to forfeit $31,500, representing the amount of money that he received from the CW during the course of the investigation in purported bribe money and payment for facilitating the bribe.
The charge to which Cardwell pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 21, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, and IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark J. McCarren and Eric W. Moran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.
Defense counsel: Henry E. Klingeman, Esq., Newark