Judge Asked to Look Into Misconduct Claim
By Stephanie Woodrow | March 24, 2022 10:34 am

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.


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