Friday, September 11, 2009

On the Jersey City Waterfront: An Update

My current class in Fact Investigation decided not to continue last semester's investigation into public corruption in northern New Jersey, including Jersey City. (The members of my course have decided to look into some possible hanky-panky in Manhattan.) This frees me to comment further on recent developments in the ongoing federal investigation about corruption on the Jersey City waterfront.

Two of the 44 people initially charged with taking bribes from a pretend real estate developer (Mr. Dwek) have pleaded guilty. One of the two -- a certain Mr. Guy Catrillo -- was (but presumably no longer is) an ally and friend of Mayor Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City. After learning of Catrillo's arrest, Mayor Healy suspended this apparently dastardly employee. After Catrillo pleaded guilty, Mayor Healy propmptly fired him. (Technically, most of the 44 people arrested by the FBI on July 23, 2009, were charged with extortion -- extorting bribes from the fake real estate developer. But never mind about that.) But Mayor Healy, being a fervent (if inconsistent) believer in the presumption of innocence, has refused to call for the resignation of the Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, Leona Beldini or the President of the City Council of Jersey City, Mariano Vega, who were also arrested by the FBI on July 23 and charged with extortion. (Mayor Healy's support for Beldini, however, has since grown lukewarm.)

But the story does not end there. First, it appears that the FBI visited Mayor Healy on July 22, 2009, the day before the 44 aforesaid people were arrested by the FBI. Second, it appears that (i) the FBI again visited Mayor Healy in August and searched his beach home and (ii) the FBI perhaps visited with him again, in City Hall, on September 9. Mayor Healy, being an upstanding fellow, refuses to comment on the discussions he has had with the FBI on the ground, he says, that speaking publicly about his intimate encounters with the FBI would interfere with an ongoing investigation.

I'm taking bets. Who is the new cooperating witness? Is it Deputy Mayor Beldini? Is it Guy Catrillo? Is it Jack Shaw? (No, wait; Shaw's dead. [He may have committed suicide.] So it can't be Shaw.) Or perhaps it is Mayor Healy who is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney? It's enough to drive a student of the Prisoner's Dilemma -- and defense counsel -- batty.

In the meantime, it seems that nearly everyone had a lovely time at the recently-finished Liberty National Golf Course in late August. (I say "nearly everyone" because apparently Tiger Woods, who played in the tournament, did not share in the general excitement.) Mr. Paul Fireman, one of the developers of Liberty National, who made generous donations to the Jerramiah T. Healy Charitable Foundation for a Better Jersey City, probably enjoyed himself as well. (Although Liberty National lies within the clutches ... er ... jurisdiction of Jersey City and its various agencies and associated government authorities, it would be unseemly to suggest that either Mr. Fireman or Mayor Healy had any commercial or political considerations in mind in regard to their dealings with Mayor Healy's charity. And I suggest no such thing: may Messieurs Healy and Fireman long live and prosper -- and continue to enjoy golf.)

P.S. I can't help wondering if Mayor Bloomberg -- who works across the river from Mayor Healy -- now regrets helping to raise many thousands of dollars in campaign donations for Mayor Healy. Did Mayor Bloomberg not care that Jersey City Public Official 4 might not be squeaky-clean? (Granted, the fund-raiser took place before the FBI arrests. But did Mayor Bloomberg suspect nothing?)

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