Grand jury charges former jersey city mayoral candidate in new indictment with traveling to facilitate a bribery scheme
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – Former 2009 Jersey City, N.J., mayoral candidate Louis Manzo was charged today by a federal grand jury in a second superseding Indictment for allegedly traveling to establish and facilitate a bribery scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Louis Manzo, 56, of Jersey City, is charged with two counts of violating the federal Travel Act – for allegedly traveling twice in aid of bribery, in February and March 2009; and one count of misprision of a felony for allegedly concealing and not reporting federal offenses committed by others in connection with the scheme.
According to the Indictment, other documents filed in this and related cases, and statements made in court:
Manzo agreed with others before the election to accept approximately $27,500 in cash from government cooperating witness Solomon Dwek through Edward Cheatam, and to accept another $17,500 after he was elected mayor. In exchange, Manzo agreed to use his official assistance, action and influence, if elected, to obtain certain Jersey City real estate development approvals for Dwek, and to promote Jersey City government employee Maher Khalil to a higher position. Manzo did not win the 2009 election.
Manzo traveled from New Jersey to Staten Island, N.Y., twice in early 2009 to meet with Ronald Manzo, Cheatam and Dwek to discuss material parts of the bribery scheme, including the receipt of money, the contemplated development approvals and Khalil’s promotion.
Louis Manzo previously was charged in a superseding Indictment in April 2010, along with his brother Ronald Manzo, with four counts of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and three counts of attempted extortion under color of official right – all in violation of the Hobbs Act; two counts of traveling in interstate commerce to establish and facilitate a bribery scheme; and one count of mail fraud – based on the same alleged conduct that led to today’s charges. In May 2010, U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares dismissed the counts of conspiracy and attempted extortion under the Hobbs Act. On February 17, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed Judge Linares’ ruling.
On May 12, 2011, Ronald Manzo pleaded guilty to unrelated extortion conspiracy charges involving his role in passing a $10,000 bribe to then Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell. As part of the plea agreement in that matter, the government agreed to dismiss the charges contained in the April 2010 superseding indictment pertaining to Ronald Manzo at the time of his sentencing.
Cheatam and Khalil pleaded guilty to separate extortion conspiracy charges in September 2009 and await sentencing.
If convicted, Louis Manzo faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on each of the two travel act charges and three years in prison on the misprision of a felony charge. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, for their work in the investigation. He also thanked special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Harsch of the United States Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations made in the second superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: John D. Lynch Esq., Union City, N.J.