Posts Tagged ‘Chris Christie’
Monday, January 17th, 2011

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) again denied he will run for president in 2012, saying in an appearance on Fox News Sunday that his experience, including his time as U.S. Attorney, has not prepared him to run the country.

“I am not arrogant enough to believe that after one year as governor of New Jersey and seven years as U.S. Attorney that I am ready to be president,” said Christie, who is nonetheless on the top of many pundits’ lists.  “I don’t think you run just because political opportunity is there. That’s how we end up with politicians who aren’t prepared for their jobs.”

Christie served as the state’s U.S. Attorney from January 2002 to December 2008. In the 2009 gubernatorial campaign, the campaign of then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) raised ethical issues about Christie’s tenure as the state’s top federal prosecutor, questioning his expenses and whether he used his position to avoid traffic tickets.

But Christie handily defeated Corzine and has since seen his profile rise nationally after taking on teacher’s unions and working to reduce state spending.

Tags: , ,
Posted in News | Comments Off
Friday, January 14th, 2011

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) filed a notice of intent to nominate Assistant U.S. Attorney Donna Gallucio and two other New Jersey area lawyers for superior court judgeships on Thursday, the Bergen County Record reported.

Gallucio is a veteran Assistant U.S. Attorney, currently working in the economic crimes unit. She served under Christie during his tenure as New Jersey U.S. Attorney from 2002 to 2008. Since being elected governor in 2009, Christie has tapped more than 10 former colleagues for posts within his administration.

Gallucio, a Republican, was hired as a federal prosecutor in 1988 by then-U.S. Attorney Samuel Alito, now a Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

The three lawyers will need to be formally nominated and confirmed by the state Senate. They are among a group of 39 nominations that Christie announced Thursday.

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A year after a major public corruption sting in New Jersey, Justice Department investigators have determined that public comments made by New Jersey’s former acting U.S. Attorney did not violate DOJ regulations, the Star-Ledger reported.

Ralph Marra (DOJ)

The department’s internal ethics probe centered on remarks in a news conference made by Ralph Marra Jr., as well as the former head of the FBI’s Newark Division, Weysan Dun. Democrats claimed the two unfairly politicized the sting to help the political chances of Marra’s ex-boss,  Chris Christie, the former N.J.  U.S. Attorney who successfully ran for governor last year.

Christie, the Republican challenger, defeated Democrat Jon Corzine last November.

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility issued a letter last week, which was obtained by the Star-Ledger, clearing Marra and Dun of any wrongdoing in the wake of the high-profile corruption case.

“Based upon the results of our investigation, we concluded that you did not violate any professional obligation and thus did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in this matter,” wrote Mary Patrice Brown, the office’s acting head.

The comments in question were made at a July 2009 news conference announcing the arrests of 44 people — 29 of which were public officials — in a far-reaching federal corruption probe.

In response to questions about state corruption, Marra said: “There are easily reforms that could be made within this state that would make our job easier, or even take some of the load off our job. There are too many people that profit off the system the way it is and so they have no incentive to change it. The few people that want to change it seem to get shouted down. So how long that cycle’s going to continue I just don’t know.”

Department guidelines restrict prosecutors from making “extrajudicial comments” that may have the effect of “heightening public condemnation of the accused.” In addition, critics argued the remarks implicitly endorsed Christie.

Corruption became a central issue in New Jersey, and Christie, the state’s former U.S. Attorney, leveraged his law-and-order background in the aftermath of the sting. His campaign vowed to clean up corruption, and he later associated Corzine with the sting despite the fact that the then-governor was not implicated in the case and had announced proposals for ethics reform.

Former Democratic assemblyman Louis Manzo, who was netted in the sting, also accused the FBI and federal prosecutors of choreographing the operation to propel Christie into office.

Upon winning the race, rumors surfaced that Christie would nominate Marra to be the state’s next Attorney General — an appointed position in New Jersey.

In fact, Christie nominated Marra for his current position as senior vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the state’s Sports and Exposition Authority — with a reported paycheck of $195,000.

Nine other former colleagues have also been bumped into the Christie administration since he became governor, including:

  • Marc Larkins to be the executive director of the New Jersey School Development Authority Board
  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office.
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office.
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel.
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel.
  • Charles McKenna to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
  • Michele Brown to be appointments counsel.
  • Lee Solomon to be the president of the board of public utilities.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, said the ethics allegations were “ridiculous.” Instead, he pointed to the question of who leaked word of the internal probe to the press last August.

“Ralph Marra was a professional, highly regarded federal prosecutor for more than 20 years,” Drewniak told The Associated Press on Sunday. “More offensive was that the allegations — now shown to be patently false — were leaked by officials in the Justice Department itself. To our minds, that raised much more serious questions about politicization of an important and successful criminal investigation.”

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

After a federal judge in Newark last month dismissed several charges against a former New Jersey lawmaker, proceedings in that case and in several related cases have been put on hold as prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office appeal the decision, The Star Ledger reported.

Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo was one of 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — arrested in July 2009 on charges of public corruption and money laundering. The assemblyman and his brother Ron Manzo are accused of accepting $27,500 in illegal campaign contributions while Lou Manzo was running for mayor of Jersey City. The money, allegedly paid in exchange for help with building permits, came from an individual who was operating as an FBI informant. Lou Manzo, a Democrat, has argued the case was a ploy to help elect the former U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Chris Christie, in what turned out to be his successful bid for governor.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Jose Linares rejected the extortion charges against the brothers because neither held public office when the alleged bribery occurred. The Manzos still faces wire fraud and bribery charges.

Federal prosecutors plan to appeal Linares’ decision, The Star Ledger reported, a move which some lawyers believe could delay cases of several defendants. John D. Lynch, a lawyer for Louis Manzo, said, “Everything is in limbo.”

Edward Hartnett, a Seton Hall Law professor who specializes in federal courts, told the newspaper, “At the end of the day, this may just push defendants from one charge to another.”

Tags: , ,
Posted in News | Comments Off
Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

The former New Jersey lawmaker who claims that the FBI and federal prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office committed “outrageous government misconduct,” during an investigation has an additional federal charge lodged against him, according to a news release from the New Jersey federal prosecutor.

A federal grand jury this week returned a seven-count superseding indictment against former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo. Manzo was one of 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — arrested in July 2009 on charges of public corruption and money laundering.

The new superseding indictment, which was filed on Thursday, adds one count of mail fraud to the original, six-count indictment returned on Oct. 6, 2009. The additional count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office also is seeking forfeiture of $27,500 in corrupt payments that were connected with the new charge.

Last month, Manzo alleged that the July 2009 public corruption case was designed to help former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) win the 2009 gubernatorial election. According to Manzo, prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office contributed to Christie’s campaign, received promises of jobs in a Christie administration and provided him with information about developments in the public corruption probe after Christie resigned the U.S. Attorney post in December 2008 in order to run for governor.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

A copy of the indictment is embedded below.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Luis A. Valentin (gov)

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is weighing whether to reappoint the state’s only Hispanic prosecutor — and a former colleague from his days as U.S. Attorney — to a county prosecutor post, The Asbury Park Press reported Tuesday.

During an editorial board meeting with the newspaper Tuesday, Christie said he will make his decision by July on whether to keep Monmouth County prosecutor Luis A. Valentin, a Democrat who was appointed by former acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (D) in 2005. The position is a  five-year term.

Prior to his appointment as county prosecutor, Valentin served as chief of the Violent Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Christie, who was then the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.

During the meeting, Christie told the editorial board that he spoke with Monmouth County’s three Republican state senators — Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr., Jennifer Beck and Sean T. Kean — earlier this week about the position and asked for recommendations for a replacement. He added that his administration also will be vetting Valentin.

“The attorney general will look at it, look at the performance of the current prosecutor, and we’ll start that process, and I’ll be starting that process in five other counties for nominations to be made in the June-July period,” Christie said.

If Christie chooses to reappoint Valentin, it would not be out of character; Christie has already tapped nearly a dozen former prosecutors from his U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration.

At the time of Valentin’s appointment in 2005, Christie praised the prosecutor as “a man of boundless energy,” according to the Atlanticville, a local newspaper. “When confronted with the choice between what is right and what is easy, he will choose what is right,” Christie said, noting that he had worked with Valentin for seven years.

Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo — one of 44 individuals arrested in July 2009 on charges of public corruption and money laundering — has criticized Christie for hiring his former colleagues. During a press conference last week, Manzo alleged the public corruption case was designed to help Christie win the 2009 gubernatorial election. According to Manzo, prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office contributed to Christie’s campaign, received promises of jobs in a Christie administration and provided him with information about developments in the public corruption probe after Christie resigned the U.S. Attorney post in December 2008 in order to run for governor.

Valentin did not work in the office during the time Manzo has alleged that federal prosecutors provided Christie with information on the investigation.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

A lawyer for a former New Jersey lawmaker on Tuesday asked a federal judge today to hold a hearing to determine if the FBI and federal prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office committed “outrageous government misconduct,” during their investigation, The Star Ledger of New Jersey reported Tuesday.

Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo was one of 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — arrested in July 2009 on charges of of public corruption and money laundering.

During a press conference last week, Manzo alleged the public corruption case was designed to help former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) win the 2009 gubernatorial election. According to Manzo, prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office contributed to Christie’s campaign, received promises of jobs in a Christie administration and provided him with information about developments in the public corruption probe after Christie resigned the U.S. Attorney post in December 2008 in order to run for governor.

The Associated Press reported last year that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had opened an internal investigation into comments made by then acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra at a news conference announcing the sting case.

“This was in the middle of a campaign in which the man was running for governor of the state of New Jersey, and this indictment helped him,” Manzo’s attorney John David Lynch told The Star Ledger Tuesday.

Federal District Judge Jose L. Linares did not rule on the request for a hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Gramiccioni told the newspaper it would be “inappropriate” to grant the request, adding that Lynch had not made his case in writing and proving such allegations would be very difficult.

During a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, Gramiccioni said the government is making another presentation to the grand jury to seek additional charges against Manzo, according to The Jersey Journal. The charges will stem from the same acts acts for which Manzo has already been charged, according to Gramiccioni.

Manzo was indicted for allegedly taking $27,000 in bribes from FBI informant Solomon Dwek to use in a failed Jersey City mayoral campaign, the newspaper reports. Manzo also is charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under the Hobbs Act, a 1951 federal law that prohibits public officials from using their positions to obtain bribes.

During the hearing, Lynch argued that the Hobbs Act does not apply to Manzo because he did not hold an elected position at the time of their alleged crimes. Gramiccioni countered the act applies to Manzo because he allegedly took the bribes in exchange for his promise to secure permits for a development project when he became an elected official.

The next pretrial hearing in both cases will be May 11, according to The Jersey Journal.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

http://www.mainjustice.com/2010/03/15/ex-pol-n-j-corruption-case-designed-to-help-christie-win/
Monday, March 15th, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

A July 2009 public corruption case that netted 44 individuals was engineered by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to win the governor’s office, a former New Jersey lawmaker alleged during a news conference Monday.

Last summer, 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — were arrested on charges of of public corruption and money laundering. The Associated Press reported last year that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had opened an internal investigation into comments made by then acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra at a news conference announcing the sting case.

During a news conference that took place Monday morning in Jersey City, N.J., former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo, who was among those arrested, said that prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office contributed to Christie’s campaign, received promises of jobs in a Christie administration and provided him with information about developments in the public corruption probe after Christie resigned the U.S. Attorney post in December 2008 in order to run for governor, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s obvious, when you connect the dots, there was an attempt to use a government sting as an effort to help Christie’s election to the governor of New Jersey,” Manzo said.

“It is shameful that this once great symbol of law and order has denigrated into the characteristics of a political ward club,” Manzo said, according to The Hudson Reporter.

Manzo also said he had filed a complaint with a federal judge concerning the alleged misconduct.

A spokesman for Christie dismissed the allegations.

“He appears to be just another official in New Jersey charged with corruption who wants to divert attention from his own conduct,”Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said.

Since winning the November 2009 election against incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D), Christie has tapped 10 former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office for state posts including ex-First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra — who became acting U.S. Attorney in December 2008 when Christie resigned to run for governor — and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown who resigned from her job as acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney in August amid several campaign-related controversies.

Manzo also denounced the conduct of the U.S. Attorney’s office in prosecuting the case.

This post has been updated since it was first posted.

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

A former New Jersey lawmaker on Monday will release information about alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the handling of a public corruption case, The Hudson Reporter of New Jersey reported Friday.

In July 2009, 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — were arrested on charges of of public corruption and money laundering. The Associated Press reported last year that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had opened an internal investigation into comments made by then acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra at a news conference announcing the sting case.

Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo, who was among those arrested, said that on Monday he will hold a press conference at which he will present “evidence documenting issues of prosecution misconduct in the Bid Rig III investigation and prosecution,” according to a news release from Manzo.

Last week, Manzo told the newspaper that his evidence relates to campaign donations to then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie from attorneys working on the sting. Christie was waging what turned out to be a successful campaign for governor. According to the newspaper, the case ultimately benefited Christie’s campaign.

This post has been updated since it was first posted.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

A former New Jersey Assistant U.S. Attorney was sworn in today as Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s attorney general, The Star-Ledger reported.

Paula Dow (gov)

Attorney General Paula Dow, who spent most of her career as a federal prosecutor, was confirmed by the state Senate yesterday. Dow said today that she will work hard to fight violent crime and corruption in New Jersey, according to the newspaper.

“Justice will ring out from these corridors and these halls to every corner of the state of New Jersey,” Dow said, according to The Star-Ledger.

Christie commended Dow, a Democrat, for her talent and intellect during the investiture ceremony.

“She has the ability, the courage and the willingness to speak truth to power,” Christie said, according to the Star Ledger.

Dow previously worked for Christie in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office from 1994 to 2003, serving as counsel to the U.S. Attorney and working in the special prosecutions and the criminal divisions. She also served in the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1987 to 1994 and worked for the oil company Exxon for seven years.

Tags: ,
Posted in News | Comments Off