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.”