Eyewitness News has learned Hoboken's newly elected mayor, Peter Cammarano and Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell were both arrested, as was Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Baldini.More as it develops.
According to officials the dozens of suspects, including several rabbis, were being brought to FBI Headquarters in Downtown Newark.
Numerous Jersey City political officials were also arrested this morning.
They include: Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Baldini and Jersey City Council President Mario Vega, Jersey City Council candidate La Vern Webb-Washington and Michael Manzo, a long-time veteran of the Jersey City fire department.
Manzo appears to be at the center of the probe, which involve money-laundering and political bid rigging.
They will be arraigned in federal court in Newark later today.
[UPDATE 9:29 AM] CNN is picking up the story. Rabbis? Fire department veterans? Mayors and Deputy Mayors from multiple cities? The hell is going on here?
Press conference at noon EDT.
[UPDATE 10:28 AM] Needless to say, this being local New Jersey politics, these guys are Democrats. If Gov. Jon Corzine didn't have enough problems running for re-election already, he's in serious trouble by association right now.
[UPDATE 11:14 AM] Joe Ryan at the Newark Star-Ledger has more:
No indictments have been released, though court appearances are expected later today in U.S. District Court in Newark. Nearly 20 people have already been led into the FBI building in Newark as the sweep continues to unfold in two states.This is getting very interesting.
Agents also raided religious institutions to make arrests and collect information.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the IRS took out at least three boxes from the Deal Yeshiva, as students were arriving at school. The Deal Yeshiva, on the corner of Brighton and Norwood avenues, is a prestigious religious school in town.
Authorities also searched the Ohel Yaacob synagogue on Ocean Avenue in Deal and removed several boxes.
[UPDATE 12:08 PM] More from CNN.
The FBI began the large operation three years ago. The public corruption and money-laundering probes are separate but are linked by common players, a source close to the investigation said.Not good.
The source described the alleged public corruption as "straight bribery" -- cash-filled envelopes exchanged for political influence.
The other investigation centered on a group of rabbis who allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars through their religious organizations for a fee, according to the source.
[UPDATE 12:57 PM] At least one Republican was busted too in the sting. Information from the press conference:
Hoboken, New Jersey, Mayor Peter Cammarano III and New Jersey Assembly members Daniel Van Pelt and L. Harvey Smith were among those arrested, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Newark, New Jersey.Nice.
A federal criminal complaint alleges that Cammarano, 32, a Democrat, took about $35,000 in bribes from a government witness posing as a real estate developer.
Another complaint alleges that Van Pelt, a Republican, accepted $10,000 in cash as "consulting fees" after an FBI official posing as a real-estate executive asked him to help fast-track a real estate project in Waretown, New Jersey, a section in Van Pelt's district. Van Pelt, 44, also is mayor of Ocean Township.
Others arrested in the public corruption portion of the investigation include Secaucus, New Jersey, Mayor Dennis Elwell, 64, who is president of a family-owned trucking company, and Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, the U.S. attorney's office said.The probe also involves a "high-volume, international money-laundering conspiracy," the office said. Rabbis in New York and New Jersey were arrested in connection with the money-laundering part of the investigation, the office said.