The mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus, Ridgefield were among 44 people arrested in early morning raids across New Jersey this morning as federal officials unveiled a long-ranging probe into public corruption and international money laundering, officials said.
FBI and IRS rounded up various elected officials and several rabbis across the state in what is being described as one of the biggest investigations of its kind in Jersey's scandal-plagued history.
The corruption investigation, which has been ongoing for over ten years according to officials, dovetails with a "high-volume international money-laundering conspiracy." It is said to involve rabbis in the Syrian Jewish enclave in Brooklyn and Deal, New Jersey. It started when money transfers drew the interests of the feds who followed the trail back to small-town Jersey corruption.
The mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus, Ridgefield were among the dozens arrested in early morning raids across New Jersey this morning as federal officials unveiled a long-ranging probe into public corruption and international money laundering, officials said
Among those arrested this morning were Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano and Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, all Democrats, authorities said. Several area rabbis and other community leaders and politicians, including Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, were arrested.
Officials say separate from the corruption probe, some of the suspects charged today were also connected to an illegal human organ-selling ring. Investigators say some charged would take cash payments to help find organs for sick patients in need of transplants. It's unclear where the body parts might have come from or how many surgeries may have been done.
The body parts scheme involved kidney transplants, authorities said. Patients in need would pay middle-men to find willing donors in Israel. Investigators said the suspects would then have the donor and patient lie to hospitals that they were related. Hospitals would then do the operation unaware that cash payments were part of the deal. Officials say Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore were allegedly contacted by the suspects for these procedures.
In past years, New Jersey has seen more than 100 corruption-related arrests of