Ruthless Ambition

According to his Wikipedia entry Louis Manzo….

was one of 44 people arrested on July 23, 2009, as part of Operation Bid Rig, a joint operation of the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey into corruption and money laundering. Manzo was charged with taking $27,500 in corrupt cash payments for use in his failed Jersey City mayoral campaign. Manzo was charged with two counts of extortion under the federal Hobbs Act, but in May 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares dismissed the charges, ruling that the act only applies to elected officials. Manzo then faced two counts of violating the Travel Act, charging him with crossing state lines to commit a crime, and two counts of failing to report to authorities that others were collecting bribes. On February 17, 2012, all remaining charges against Manzo were dismissed by Linares.

Louis Manzo has a theory about this prosecution and he shares it with us in a new book that indicts a justice system susceptible to manipulation by amoral political operatives. In it he contends:

It appeared to me that the evidence was conclusive that federal prosecutors, including former United States Attorney Chris Christie, broke the law and used their offices to personally and politically profit themselves, obstruct justice, and engage in what appeared to be a government orchestrated coup to disrupt the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial election.

Contriving a sting operation with a controversial confidential informant, the prosecutors used their public offices to knock out the Democratic political stronghold of Hudson County just prior to the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial election.  In so doing, as would be verified by polling and election results, the prosecutors strategically helped to tilt the election in Christie’s favor. (pages 16-17)

First impression is why Christie’s people could not have set their sights on the Democratic political stronghold next door (Union County) where there would have been no need to go through a Solomon Dwek to manufacture evidence since it already exists.  Second impression is that, if Manzo’s version of events (at least through page 153) is even remotely close to the truth, we are all screwed.

More excerpts from the book that offer more proof:

A veteran prosecutor, ousted by Governor Christie’s administration, accused the Governor’s regime of corruption in court documents.  Bennett A. Barlyn, an ex-Assistant Prosecutor in the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, was working an ironclad criminal case against the Hunterdon County Sheriff and two of her deputies in 2010.  The sheriff, Deborah Trout, is an acquaintance of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and played an active role in Christie’s gubernatorial campaign in 2009, the court records show.  Trout sent some of her Sheriff’s Office deputies to assist the campaign. Guadagno personally thanked her in an e-mail. A grand jury returned a 43-count indictment in the matter. The indictment charged that Trout hired deputies without conducting background checks – a criminal offense in New Jersey. The indictment further charged that Trout’s office also gave a fake police ID to a pharmaceutical executive who just happened to donate thousands of dollars to Christies’s campaign. Michael Russo, the indicted undersheriff in the case, assured one of his aides at the time, “Governor Christie will have this whole thing thrown out.” (page 9)

As United States Attorney, Christie often expressed outrage at government awarded no-bid contracts. He once categorized them as “the biggest problem in corruption in New Jersey.” (page 33)

A New Jersey Assemblyman and then New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman, Joseph Cryan, had a different take on Kelley’s and Christie’s defense of the monitoring agreement: “Chris Christie wants us to believe that in a country with more than one million lawyers, the one most qualified to receive this no-bid work is the same one who let his brother off the hook for stock fraud,” he said, as quoted by FactCheck.org. (page 35)

When Christie announced his candidacy for Governor, and some of the monitors [for companies with deferred prosecution agreements] that he had selected turned up as donors to his campaign, all hell broke loose.  “This was the concern we’ve had all along…He chooses his friends to be the monitors with the idea he would run for Governor and go back to his political friends to raise money for his campaign,” [Congressman Frank] Pallone told the Associated Press. (page 40)

Here is a perfect example of how this man’s immorality knew no bounds.  [Solomon] Dwek conveniently worked at the Deal Yeshiva, a temple that had been founded by his parents. Although he was mostly doing fundraising, he set his own salary at $200,000. Soon the Yeshinva became a tool for Dwek’s money laundering. He would accept and report exaggerated donations from wealthy individuals looking for tax write-offs, give back as much as ninety percent to the tax cheats, and keep the other ten percent for the Yeshiva. The only exception was when Dwek would pocket the actual contribution, or a portion of it, for himself. (page 52)

Perhaps because of Christie’s decision to look the other way when Solomon Dwek implicated George Gilmore and Joe Oxley in criminal activity, Oxley and Gilmore threw their support behind Chrisitie [for governor] early on. (page 80)

Despite this knowledge, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office still decided to storm the home and office of Joe Doria on the morning of the takedown. Somebody made sure that the media had been tipped off about the raid and they turned out en masse in front of Doria’s home. It was a perfect setup. According to The Jersey Sting, FBI agents then proceeded to carry out empty evidence boxes from Doria’s house, against his objections that the press outside might be given the wrong impression. The news of the incident led to Doria’s resignation. The news of FBI agents raiding Doria’s home made it into Chris Christie’s political spin, and by linking Bid Rig III to Corzine, they were helping to affect the outcome of the [2009] election. (page 104)

“The Dwek case to [Joseph] Cryan marks the final act in a career at the U.S. Attorney’s office in which Christie played the role of backroom boss with a badge,” surmised the authors of The Jersey Sting. (page 133)

Distinguished Star-Ledger columnist and editor, Tom Moran, who covers, opines, and reports about major New Jersey news events for the paper, assessed Christie’s integrity. “After he won, he broke all those promises right away. The centerpiece of his first year in office was the following: cut pensions, cut eduction spending and cut property tax rebates. And for the Bible-thumpers in the South, here’s a revealing coda on Christie’s style: Bill Lavin, the firefighters’ union chief, later attacked Christie over the flip-flop on pensions. He said Christie sent a personal emissary who stated he was instructed to relay these specific words to Lavin: ‘Go f— yourself.‘ Neither the emissary nor the governor’s office denies it,” wrote Moran. (page 153)

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on December 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Ok John, So YES, Christie is a bully, and YES he is a putz, and MAYBE, he’s also guilty of criminal acts………

    But is HE the ROOT CAUSE of NJ’s pension mess, or is the ROOT CAUSE the HUGE over-promising of pensions & benefits by previous Administrations (both Dem. & Rep.) as payback for Public Sector Union campaign contributions and election support ?

    I accept that you don’t like him, and there is plenty of reason not to, INCLUDING agreeing to, but not honoring the 2011 pension changes that included contractual rights to funding per the scheduled grade-in to full funding.

    But how about a bit of sympathy for the TAXPAYERS (by addressing the HUGE amount they are supposedly “responsible for”, even if not now materially paying down that debt) ….. and using your expertise to effect change, change that DEMANDS either a hard freeze to current DB pensions (by far, the BEST option) or a VERY material reduction (of AT LEAST 50%) in the pension accrual rate for the FUTURE Service of all CURRENT NJ workers. Granted, that while doing so will not eliminate the existing UAAL, it will at least stop digging the hole we are in deeper every day.

    You, as an actuary, know that when factoring in BOTH the rich NJ pension “formulas” AND the very generous “provisions” …………..such as the very young full/unreduced retirement ages, COLAs (now suspended), absurdly generous early retirement adjustment factors, very liberal definitions of “pensionable compensation”, etc. …………… that full career, NJ Public Sector pensions are ROUTINELY 3 to 4 times greater in value at retirement than those of comparable Private Sector workers retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME service, and the SAME cash pay, and per an in-depth analysis of Public VS Private Sector “cash pay” and “Total Compensation” (“cash pay plus pensions plus benefits) linked below*, NJ is overcompensating it’s Public Sector workers (on average for all occupations combined) by 23% of pay (without factoring in the incremental financial value of the MUCH greater Public Sector “Job Security”), and 34% (with factoring in the incremental financial value of the MUCH greater Public Sector “Job Security”.)

    You can make your mark by complaining less about Christie’s lack of funding to the level he “promised” …. the ultimate goal of which would be to fully fund the absurdly generous CURRENT DB Plan promises (should THIS really be our goal ?)…… and working to re-set future-service pension accruals to a level fair to BOTH the workers AND the Taxpayers.

    Again, I support EQUAL Public/Private Sector “Total Compensation” in comparable occupations.
    ———————————————-
    * http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/-biggs-overpaid-or-underpaid-a-statebystate-ranking-of-public-employee-compensation_112536583046.pdf

    Note that this study included only State (not Local) workers and excluded Safety workers. Had Safety workers (with their far-above-average salaries and with the most egregious pensions & benefits) been included, the “overcompensation” of NJ’s Public Sector workers would have been considerably GREATER than the 23% and 34% of pay ADVANTAGE presented above.

    Reply

    • Very well stated, TL. I now visit this page to read your posts, rather than the Blog sponsor. I personally have no great affection for Christie, but as compared to Corzine or, gasp, Buono, I would come back from the dead to vote for him if I still lived in NJ!

      Reply

  2. Posted by bpaterson on December 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I love the sentence near the end; “Distinguished Star-Ledger columnist and editor, Tom Moran”. From Moran’s yellow-raggish editorials and articles, Moran is proven neither distinguished nor a columnist.

    And if manzo just plainly admits that he was involved in taking the money as a bribe for future actions when he would get into office then maybe he would have some credibility.

    This is just a classic action of attacking the messenger to avoid any direct responsibility….hugely popular in the most corrupt state in the nation….and right up there with the politicians “New Jersey defense” when they get arrested: Hey everybody else was doing it!.

    Reply

  3. Posted by skip3house on December 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Good job diverting from the NJ Number One Trouble – Cruel, regressive property tax !

    Reply

  4. Posted by Javagold on December 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    The property tax is the most regressive tax in the world !!!! So fuck Chris Christie and fuck the public takers and their corrupt union. Neither works or fights for the homeowners. So this ship is going down fast and it will not be soon enough.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Tough Love on December 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Gov. Christie is not “THE” problem, and focusing on HIM instead of addressing NJ’s serious financial issues is counterproductive.

    The following Quote is from actuary Mary Pat Campbell’s blog and can be found here:

    http://stump.marypat.org/article/157/80-percent-pension-funding-hall-of-shame-an-illinois-ex-governor-who-should-know-better

    So what should we be focusing on …….. that Gov. Christie didn’t honor what was likely impossible from the get-go, or the ROOT CAUSE of the problem … NJ’s grossly excessive Public Sector Pension and Benefit promises ……. and work tirelessly to immediately END crediting all CURRENT workers even MORE (Future Service) accruals under these absurdly generous Plans and digging the financial hole we are now in even deeper?
    —————————————————
    “:And here’s the deal: some pensions are not able to cover just the current retiree portion of the benefits:

    Nobody is any more worried now than they were before the New Jersey Pension Study Commission report came out. Yes, “[t]his problem is dire and will only become much worse if meaningful steps are not taken quickly” but what does that really mean to anyone?

    …. Scary Conclusions

    1. For retirees there may be about $15 billion to cover $40 billion in liabilities and that’s ONLY for retirees leaving absolutely NOTHING for the 151,669 participants who have not yet started receiving monthly benefits except, for now, the refund of their contributions.

    2. There is an equally good chance that Conclusion #1 is overly optimistic”

    Reply

  6. Posted by MJ on December 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    All politicians are corrupt, self centered, power hungry pigs so why single out Christie other than he happens to be the current governor and we all have to blame somebody. The pensions and health benefits will never be paid in full and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. The same sleazy politicians who put all of us in this position will protect themselves at any cost despite what the actuaries tell them behind closed doors. Public and private alike will suffer the consequences of poor management and poor financial decisions. But hey, we’re all good for it right?

    Reply

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