Back in July of 2009, we considered one of the largest political corruption sting operations in the nation’s history, FBI Operation "Bid Rig," which resulted in the arrest and charging of 44 individuals, primarily in New Jersey. Well, at least one of the individuals, former New Jersey State Assemblyman Louis Manzo, fought the charges, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nearly three years and $150,000 in legal bills later, Manzo has filed a Hyde Amendment motion for reimbursement of his legal fees. A Federal court found Manzo’s conduct–agreeing to take money from a former real estate speculator and Ponzi schemer, Solomon Dwek, who cooperated with the government and provided much of the evidence used to charge and prosecute the defendants–"reprehensible," but that his actions did not violate Federal law.
The charges against Manzo were the result of an approximately three year investigation, costing millions of dollars, initiated in 2006 by current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he was U.S. Attorney. A judge ruled in 2010 that the government had erroneously charged some of the defendants, who were running for elected office, using laws which applied to officials who had actually been elected. Approximately three-quarters of the defendants from the sting have entered guilty pleas. Six, including Manzo; New Jersey State Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith; Ridgefield, New Jersey, Mayor Anthony Suarez; and candidate for the Jersey City Council Lori Serrano, had the charges dropped or thrown out. Manzo and Serrano have claimed that the sting was politically motivated by Christie in order to increase his chances for election as Governor in 2009.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey dropped charges against 16 of 22 businessmen arrested following a similar sting for alleged bribery of foreign officials after it failed to win convictions in two trials.
Whether you are facing or expecting criminal charges, call the attorneys at Gillen Withers & Lake LLC in Atlanta (404) 842-9700 or Savannah (912) 447-8400. Handling every sort of criminal investigation or prosecution, in the Southeast and Nationwide.