Ex-Hoboken, N.J., Mayor Disbarred on Bribe Plea

     (CN) – The former mayor of Hoboken, N.J., once best known for being youngest occupier of that office, has been disbarred by the state’s Supreme Court as punishment for accepting $25,000 in bribes from an informant posing as a developer.
     Peter Cammarano III, who was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 2002, served one term as councilman in Hoboken, N.J. before running for mayor of the city in 2009. It was during this time that he met with Solomon Dwek, a FBI informant posing as a real estate developer.
     Cammarano met with Dwek four separate times at a local diner before and after the mayoral election, and accepted several envelopes of cash in exchange for agreeing to favorable zoning and expedition of the fake developer’s equally imaginary real estate projects.
     Cammarano even declared during one of the conversations recorded by Dwek that once in office, he would divide the world into three categories: “‘the people who were with us’ all along, ‘the people who climbed aboard in the runoff,’ and those who were ‘against us the whole way,'” which he said of this last group “they get ground into powder,” according to Justice Barry T. Albin’s opinion.
     Albin went on to note that Cammarano explained, “Those in third category … would ‘get ground into powder’ and would have to wait ‘three years’ for their projects’ approvals, which would be placed at the ‘[b]ottom of the pile.'”
     Cammarano accepted $25,000 from Dwek and wound up winning a narrow election, becoming the city’s new mayor at just 32 years old. However, federal authorities arrested Cammarano just three weeks into serving his term as part of the “Operation Bid Rig” corruption sweep. He resigned a week after his arrest.
     As part of Bid Rig, Mr. Dwek also helped build cases against several other politicians, five rabbis and other people on money-laundering charges in Brooklyn and on the Jersey Shore, and led prosecutors to charge another Brooklyn man with conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant. A total of 46 people were arrested and charged as part of the sweep.
     In April 2010, Cammarano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right. He was sentenced to and served two years in federal prison.
     After Cammarano’s guilty plea, the Office of Attorney Ethics filed a motion for final discipline with the Disciplinary Review Board, which recommended his disbarment. After conducting a hearing to determine the appropriate level of discipline, a divided DRB panel voted to impose a three-year prospective period of suspension on Mr. Cammarano. The case was then sent to the State Supreme Court.
     Albin wrote for the unanimous court that “an elected official who sells his office – who offers favored treatment to a private developer in exchange for money -betrays a solemn public trust” and that “an attorney who engages in this form of public corruption, forsaking his oath of office and the oath taken when admitted to the bar, should expect that he will be disbarred.”
     Although he acknowledged Cammarano ‘s “prior unsullied reputation,” Albin said “this form of corruption is corrosive to our democracy and undermines public confidence in honest government, and its rippling pernicious effects are incalculable.”
     The court issued an order disbarring Cammarano on September 17th.
     Joseph Hayden Jr., Cammarano’s attorney, told The Jersey Journal he is “painfully disappointed” in the court’s decision, saying Cammarano had never been in trouble before his 2009 arrest. He also characterized Cammarano’s role in the bribery scheme as “passive.”
     “I believe Peter’s a good person and will ultimately make a positive contribution to society,” Hayden said.

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