FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – Former Jersey City, N.J., City Council President Mariano Vega was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison for agreeing to accept $30,000 in cash bribes and illicit contributions in exchange for exercising his future official influence and authority, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Vega, 61, of Jersey City, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to an Information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Judge Linares also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Vega admitted that while he was president of the City Council and candidate for re-election, he agreed to accept cash payments and illicit campaign contributions totaling $30,000 from government cooperating witness Solomon Dwek, who purported to be a real estate developer.
Vega admitted that all of the $30,000 payments were in exchange for his future official assistance, action and influence in Jersey City government matters pertaining to Dwek’s anticipated real estate development projects. Vega also admitted that all of the payments he accepted from Dwek were paid through Maher Khalil, who was the assistant director of the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services at the time. Khalil pleaded guilty to the same charge on September 9, 2009, and awaits sentencing.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares ordered Vega to serve two years of supervised release and to forfeit $20,000 – the amount of the corrupt bribes that he had received at the time of his arrest in July 2009. Judge Linares continued Vega’s release on a $75,000 bond pending his surrender to officials with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on June 6, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Peter Willis, Jersey City, N.J.