Saturday, July 25, 2009

True Friendship?

Leona Beldini, the deputy mayor of Jersey City, was among the New Jersey public officials arrested by federal authorities for taking bribes from a person who Beldini and other public officials thought was a real estate developer but was in fact acting as an undercover agent. Mayor Jerramiah Healy later suspended the Jersey City officials [including, presumably, Beldini] who were charged with such misdeeds. Mayor Healy said that the charges were shocking. But he also said:
"I have full faith in Leona [Beldini]," Healy said. "She’s a good friends of mine — was and will be."
Now why do you suppose Healy said that? Was it out of friendship? Or did his profession of perpetual friendship for Beldini have something to with the allegation that he and Beldini met twice with the person who was pretending to be a developer and who made the payment to Beldini?

Note: On July 24 the AP reported:

The complaint targets Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, who is charged with taking 20-thousand dollars in bribes.

Beldini served as Healy's treasurer for his 2009 mayoral campaign, and she is accused of collecting cash on Healy's behalf, in exchange for promising to fast-track the cooperating witness -- or c-w's -- development projects.

Throughout the complaint, Healy is referred to as 'J-C Official 4.'

In one recorded exchange, "Beldini responded that she could say one thing about J-C Official 4. J-C Official 4 remembered J-C Official 4's friends, and J-C Official 4's word was gold."

Later the complaint describes how, "at a diner in Jersey City, defendant Cheatam and defendant Shaw accepted $10,000 in cash each from the c-w, including $5,000 a piece to "convert" into contributions for J-C Official 4."

Edward Cheatem [sic], a city official, and Jack Shaw, a political consultant, have also been charged with taking bribes.

Healy has suspended all of the Jersey City workers charged in the corruption investigation without pay.

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