Former Jersey City Council Candidate Admits Mishandling Contributions
NEWARK – Former Jersey City Council candidate Lori Serrano today admitted to converting federal funds illegally for her own use, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Serrano, 41, of Jersey City, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to a Superseding Information charging her with converting to her own use and the use of another up to $1,000 in money of the United States to which she was not entitled.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Serrano, as a 2009 candidate for city council for Jersey City, had a duty truthfully to account to her campaign committee for contributions received and not to use committee funds for any improper purpose, such as for personal use. On March 30, 2009, and April 23, 2009, in Bayonne, N.J., Serrano accepted cash contributions from Solomon Dwek, who was cooperating with federal law enforcement agents. Serrano accepted those contributions with the intent to convert a portion of the money without the authority of the campaign committee. She applied up to $1,000 of that money to pay her own campaign expenses. The funds that Serrano admitted converting were federal funds given to Dwek by the FBI as part of the investigation.
The misdemeanor charge to which Serrano pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Serrano had been facing a mail fraud charge, which, according to the plea agreement, will be dismissed at the time of her sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1, 2013.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric W. Moran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.
Defense counsel: Raymond L. Hamlin Esq., Newark