JERSEY CITY (CN) - Union City officials extorted money from property owners and denied them permits until they were paid off, developers say. City officials allegedly forced the plaintiffs to spend $200,000 to hire attorney Jose Izquierdo, who kicked back $3,400 to a Zoning Board member to buy his girlfriend a dog.
Two officials have pleaded guilty and more indictments are expected, plaintiffs claim in Hudson County Court.
Plaintiffs Adib and Norma Tadros say they bought a plot of land in 2004 so their company, Genesis I, could build a 6-story commercial and residential building. The Union City Council and Zoning Board then extorted them, and the plaintiffs began cooperating with the FBI, the Tadroses say.
They claim defendant John Medina demanded a bribe of $35,000, but settled for $20,000, in a bribery deal recorded by the FBI. Union City officials then demanded that the plaintiffs hire Izquierdo, an attorney-architect, and the plaintiffs spent $200,000 on him, they say.
"Specifically, Izquierdo, an attorney and architect owner of JAI Architect in West New York, NJ admitted he made payments to a Union City Board of Zoning Adjustment member including buying a $3,400 dog for the Board member's girlfriend to win favorable consideration of building projects over several years and had lied to FBI agents during an interview in 2006," the complaint states. "Additionally, Izquierdo admitted making a number of such payments in exchange for official favors and referrals between 2000 and 2006.
"Indictments were issued as a result of the FBI investigation against both Izquierdo and Medina whom (sic) both pled guilty and are currently awaiting sentencing. The investigation is continuing and ongoing and more indictments are expected against more officials."
The complaint does not specify what official positions, if any, Medina and Izquierdo hold or held. Here are the defendants: John Medina, Jose Izquierdo, Martin Martinetti, Franco Zandardelli, The City of Union City, New Jersey, The Mayor and Council of Union City and Each of its Members Individually, The City of Union City Zoning Board of Adjustment, Empire Tech Architect, Jai Architect, and Sherif H. El Far P.E.
Plaintiffs demand $100 million. They are represented by Rose Tubito.