Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey U.S. Attorney’
Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It was one of the biggest federal corruption stings in history.

Calls of congratulations quickly came down from the Justice Department to the prosecutors and the FBI division chief. Headlines went around the world.

A new book explores a controversial 2009 public corruption case.

And then suddenly, a wire story smashed into the euphoria: an ethics probe was underway and it centered on the man who oversaw the big case, the top Justice Department official in New Jersey.

The massive case involved the arrests of more than 40 people arrested on corruption and money-laundering charges on a single day, during a single unprecedented perp walk at the FBI’s massive division headquarters in Newark, NJ. Three mayors, two state legislators, five orthodox rabbis and dozens of others, charged with political corruption and money laundering. One of those arrested had been charged with selling kidneys on the black market.

A few miles away then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) watched it unfold on live TV with the sinking feeling that his political career was, at that very moment, ending. And a few more miles away, south of Newark, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) was riding a political high that would only get better because of the arrests, and wind up taking over the governorship a few months later.

At the center of it all was a cooperating witness, Solomon Dwek, who took on the role of a corrupt developer looking to launder millions out of a failed real estate business. Separately, he was—at the feds’ direction—paying off elected officials to speed the green-lighting of projects that never existed.

While the defendants were being booked, then-acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, a career prosecutor, told reporters, “The politicians willingly put themselves up for sale. For these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone.”

Chris Christie (Creative Commons)

Weysan Dun, at the time the head of the FBI in Newark, was equally somber in tone: “This case is not about politics. It is certainly not about religion,” he said. “It is about arrogance and it is about a shocking betrayal of the public trust.”

The comments played across the front pages. In Washington, Main Justice was thrilled with what they were seeing on TV and in print. There had been no immediate question raised by the department after the news conference. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark had advised headquarters before the takedown occurred and sent a copy of the press release to the Justice Department the night before. The only question they had for Marra was about when they could notify the cadre of national reporters who cover the department in DC.

But then days later, word leaked out that Marra was suddenly the subject of an internal investigation over the comments. That report, filed by the Associated Press Justice Department reporter in Washington, said the ethics probe focused on whether Marra’s statements violated government policy because they aided Christie’s campaign.

Marra tried to invoke department rules that require the source of a complaint to be revealed to the subject, but his superiors wouldn’t give him that information. He also said he answered every question posed to him both in writing and during a subsequent interview and he insisted his comments that day were well within the boundaries. He requested that an investigation be undertaken in Washington to find the source of the leak and that the department issue a statement saying clearly that he was not under investigation. He was rebuffed.

Marra later learned that the complaint was not filed by the counsel of one of the defendants, as is usually the case, but by someone in the Justice Department itself. He suspected it had come from within his own office. DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility instructed Marra to address “allegations that the announcement of these charges was inappropriately timed to influence the outcome of the New Jersey gubernatorial election.”

Marra at the 2009 Operation Bid Rig news conference. (Getty)

Former Democratic assemblyman Louis Manzo, who was among those charged last summer, has raised the issue in his own case. He accused the FBI and federal prosecutors of orchestrating the sting operation to help catapult Christie into the governor’s office. Corzine’s campaign also went after Marra for the comments, charging that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had been co-opted into an agent of Christie.

Marra told us he never thought through the political implications of the Dwek case, the timing of the takedown, or the perception by some that he was a Christie crony because the former U.S. attorney had promoted him to first assistant.

A year after the big corruption case broke, Marra was formally cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with his public comments. At the same time, it was revealed that Dun’s comments at that first press conference had come under review as well. In a letter to both men, OPR informed them that they had acted properly.

Marra left the U.S. Attorney’s Office last year and is now senior vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, courtesy of a patronage appointment from Christie. After OPR cleared him, he said there was nothing wrong with what he said. “We had so many facts in the record and affidavits that we had a lot of evidence to talk about,” he said. “That made it different than the run-of-the-mill case.”

He said he never troubled him that he was investigated. “It troubles me that it was leaked and nothing was ever done about it,” said Marra.

Dun, now special agent in charge of the FBI’s division in Omaha, Neb., had also been surprised an inquiry was initiated, but remarked, “I was confident my comments were consistent with DOJ guidelines.”

Since the arrests, 25 people have pleaded guilty, including one Democratic operative who surprisingly copped to his crimes just two weeks ago. Three have been convicted, including former Jersey City deputy mayor Leona Beldini—a one-time burlesque stripper—and former Republican assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt.

Two defendants have been acquitted – one mayor and one former assemblymen. The not-guilty verdicts were stunning losses for a U.S. Attorney’s Office that had won every corruption case it tried for a decade.

Charges remain unresolved against Lou Manzo and his brother, Ron, who recently had the most serious part of their cases thrown out by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The Manzos had been charged with extortion conspiracy under the Hobbs Act, a statute that makes it illegal for public officials to accept cash for their influence—what the law calls “extortion under color of official right.”

While prosecutors argued the Manzos did not need to actually hold office—merely take money and promise favors based on the power they hoped to gain if Lou Manzo had been elected mayor—the judge in the case ruled they could not be charged under the Hobbs Act because neither was an elected official at the time of the alleged crimes.

The charges against one minor defendant were dismissed altogether and some of the feds say Marra should never have approved that part of the case at all.

And one money-laundering defendant remains on the lam to this day, the charges against him still waiting for the day he pops a red flag at some airport or other American point of entry.

For his part, Solomon Dwek had taken his pleas and will eventually be sentenced to prison time. For now, he’s wearing an ankle bracelet and is in the custody of the FBI.
______________
Ted Sherman is the senior investigative reporter with The Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ. Josh Margolin, formerly of The Star-Ledger, covers law enforcement and national security at the New York Post. This article is adapted from reporting for their new book, “The Jersey Sting: A true story of crooked pols, money-laundering rabbis, black market kidneys, and the informant who brought it all down.” It is being released today by St. Martin’s Press.

Tags: ,
Posted in News | Comments Off
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.

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Marc Larkins speaks after Gov. Chris Christie announces his nomination. (gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named Marc Larkins to be the executive director of the New Jersey School Development Authority Board, according to a news release.

Larkins is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who has held a number of positions in the office since he joined in 2003. He has served as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, Acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Acting Executive U.S. Attorney and council. In addition, he has been the chief of the government fraud unit.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Larkins was a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Division from 1999 to March 2003. Simultaneously, from February 2000 to March 2002, Larkins was Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Christie, who was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey from 2002-2008, had already named eight of his former colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • 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.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie (gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named Lee Solomon to be the president of the board of public utilities, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports.

Solomon, who currently is a state Superior Court judge in Camden County, was a Deputy U.S. Attorney under Christie, running the prosecutor’s offices in Camden and Trenton. He previously was a Camden County Freeholder, a state assemblyman, 1992 GOP congressional candidate and Camden County prosecutor. Christie was the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002-2008.

During the news conference at which Christie announced Solomon’s new post, the governor praised Solomon’s judgment and people skills, adding that he had sought proven managers for his cabinet because “a lot of state government has been dysfunctional,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Christie has already named seven of his former colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • 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.
Friday, January 15th, 2010

Michele Brown (McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie on Friday said he will name former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown to be appointments counsel in his administration, The Associated Press reported. Brown, who was one of Christie’s assistants when he ran the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office, resigned from her job as acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney in August amid several campaign-related controversies.

When he was U.S. Attorney, Christie took out a second mortgage on his home to loan Brown $46,000, but failed the report the information on his financial disclosures and tax returns. Brown also came under fire by the campaign of Christie’s opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine (D), for working to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request that concerned her and Christie’s travel records.

The FOIA records revealed that Christie exceeded his government lodging allowance when traveling as U.S. Attorney, often staying in luxury hotels, and that he approved Brown’s requests to stay in some of the same five-star hotels as he.

In addition, the New York Times reported that Brown assisted the Christie campaign by delaying the U.S. Attorney office’s response to the Corzine campaign’s FOIA requests. As a result, then-interim U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra came under pressure from unnamed Justice Department officials to remove Brown from collecting records for the campaign’s request, the Times reported.

Brown resigned shortly thereafter to take a job at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.

Christie has already named six of his former colleagues from his U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • 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 and
  • Charles McKenna, to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Friday, January 8th, 2010

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) today announced that he will name he will name several more staffers from his U.S. Attorney’s office to his cabinet, NewJerseyNewsroom.com reports.

Robert Hanna (Gibbons P.C.)

Christie has tapped Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office. Hanna, the director of the Newark, N.J. law-firm, Gibbons PC, previously was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 16 years.

Stephen Taylor (Taylor, Colicchio & Silverman, LLP)

In addition, Stephen Taylor will be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office. Taylor, who has worked in the Essex County prosecutor’s office, also has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, N.J. He has served as chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and as chief of the Terrorism Unit.

Deborah Gramiccioni (gov)

The governor-elect also has selected Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.  Gramiccioni, who is the outgoing state Criminal Justice director, previously was the assistant chief of the fraud section in the criminal division and chief of the Commercial Crimes United in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, N.J.

Christie has already tapped three of his former subordinates from the U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration – Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who will be Christie’s chief counsel; Kevin M. O’Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel; and Charles McKenna, who will head the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie stayed in luxury hotels and exceeded the government allowance on 14 of 16 trips he took as the state’s U.S. Attorney in 2008, The Associated Press reports.

The spending records were obtained by the campaign of Gov. Jon Corzine (D) under the Freedom of Information Act. The Corzine campaign in August had made an issue of acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown’s assignment to help fulfill the FOIA request. Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra said at the time that Brown was involved only insofar as some of the requested documents concerned her own travel.

Brown resigned in August after it was revealed that Christie had made an unreported $46,000 loan to her.

We don’t know anything first-hand about this story, just passing along what The AP says. To wit:

On trips in 2007 and 2008, his top deputy, Michele Brown, also exceeded the guidelines after Christie approved her requests for rooms in the same five-star hotels where he was booked.

The vouchers show Christie and Brown stayed at the NineZero Hotel in Boston on Oct. 16, 2007 and each billed taxpayers $449 plus taxes and fees for their rooms, more than double the government allowance for a Boston hotel room at the time, according to a General Services Administration travel reimbursement table.

Christie made a mortgage loan to Brown five days after they returned from Boston, on Oct. 22, 2007. He failed to report the loan on federal ethics forms and on his 2007 federal income tax returns, omissions he later described as a mistake. Brown has since resigned and joined a private law firm.

And:

Records turned over so far show Christie exceeded the government lodging allowance on 23 of 30 business trips taken between 2004 and 2008. In some cases, his travel vouchers were approved first by Brown, then certified by a third person. Christie, who was Brown’s supervisor, signed off on her travel, either in advance or when she submitted vouchers, the records show. The vouchers were all certified by a third party

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Chris Christie has until Sept. 4 to more fully answer questions from a House member about controversial court-monitoring contracts he awarded when he was New Jersey U.S. Attorney, PolitickerNJ.com reported this afternoon.

Steve Cohen (Gov)

Steve Cohen (Gov)

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), chair of the House Judiciary commercial and administrative law subcommittee, submitted questions for the record for Christie to answer after the Republican nominee for New Jersey governor stalked out of a June panel hearing about the deals. Christie answered the queries, but the House member from Tennessee said the responses from the former U.S. Attorney were “particularly unsatisfactory.”

The subcommittee chair wrote in a letter to Christie:

Chris Christie (Gov)

Chris Christie (Gov)

“For all but two of your questions, you responded with a general assertion that the questions were answered in your oral and written testimony. At time you cited page numbers in the unofficial hearing transcript, which on further inspection appear not to contain anything responsive, and which in any event will be confusing to those who will have only the official published hearing record, of which your letter will be part. Finally, even for the two questions for which you provided answers, the answers are incomplete.”

Read Christie’s answers here.

The questions from Cohen focused on a no-bid contract worth up to $52 million that Christie awarded to a firm owned by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra has waded into the political battle over Chris Christie’s tenure as the state’s top federal prosecutor, lashing out at about controversies surrounding his former boss in an email to his staff.

Marra at the July 23 Operation Bid Rig news conference that sparked an ethics inquiry into his remarks. (Getty Images)

Marra at the July 23 Operation Bid Rig news conference that sparked an ethics inquiry into his remarks. (Getty Images)

Christie, a Republican, is locked in an increasingly bitter race for New Jersey governor against incumbent Jon Corzine, a Democrat. Marra’s email, disclosed Wednesday by the PolitickerNJ blog, denounced as ”wholly trumped up” a complaint against him that sparked a Department of Justice ethics inquiry. He said the U.S. Attorney’s office “has been unfairly drawn into a political campaign through [a] barrage of FOIA requests” from the Corzine campaign. And he expressed “great regret” at the resignation of acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown after controversy erupted over an unreported loan Christie made to her.

Marra also notes in the e-mail that Marc Larkins is now the office’s acting First Assistant, while Marc Ferzan is the acting Executive Assistant and acting Deputy U.S. Attorney for Southern New Jersey.

We’ll get to Marra’s email below, as well as an assessment from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) that Marra has “completely compromised any sense of neutrality.” But first, here’s a recap of the mounting list of controversies stemming from Christie’s tenure as U.S. Attorney:

  • Christie’s office awarded a no-bid court monitoring contract worth up to $52 million in 2007 to the consulting firm headed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Democrats have called the contract “outrageous,” and Corzine’s campaign has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for more information about it.
  • Former Bush White House advisor Karl Rove told the House Judiciary Committee that while Christie was still serving as U.S. Attorney, they had spoken about Christie’s desire to run for governor. Democrats pounced, calling the revelation evidence that Christie had improperly mixed politics with his prosecuting job.
  • Marra then came under investigation by the Department of Justice’s internal ethics watchdog over remarks he made at a July 23 news conference announcing arrests of 44 people — including two mayors close to Corzine — in a public corruption investigation called Operation Bid Rig. Marra said the “few people that want to change” New Jersey corruption “seem to get shouted down” - remarks that Democrats interpreted as intended to boost his former boss, who is running against Corzine on an anti-corruption platform.
  • On Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown resigned after news surfaced that Christie had loaned her $46,000 but not had not reported it on his tax returns or financial disclosure forms. Corzine supporters had previously complained that Brown had been assigned to work on their FOIA requests about Christie’s tenure, which the office has yet to fulfill.
  • On Wednesday news reports revealed that Christie had been ticketed in 2005 for speeding and driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle. In the car with him, his wife and children was Brown, the recipient of the loan. A Christie spokeswoman acknowledged that Christie had mentioned during the traffic stop that he was the state’s top federal prosecutor. He was allowed to drive away.

Here’s the text of Marra’s e-mail:

From: Marra, Ralph (USANJ)
To: USANJ-ALL_NJUSAO_Personnel
Sent: Tue Aug 25 16:51:07 2009
Subject: Michele Brown

Everyone:

It’s with great regret that I’ve accepted Michele’s resignation as an AUSA, effective today.  Michele has had a distinguished 18 year career in this Office and has been a wonderful friend and colleague.  We wish her the best.

Effective tomorrow Marc Larkins will take over as Acting First Assistant and Marc Ferzan will wear the hats of Acting Executive Assistant and Acting Deputy U.S. Attorney for the South.

I know how distracting these transitions can be and this one has been made more difficult as the Office has been unfairly drawn into a political campaign through the barrage of FOIA requests; the purported controversy over Michele’s personal loan, and a wholly trumped up (and then apparently leaked) complaint, reportedly about my generic and general comments at the Bid Rig press conference and the timing of the Bid Rig takedown.

We owe it to the public and ourselves to keep the work of the Office going at our usual pace and at our usual standard of excellence.

Ralph

Here’s the response from Pallone, the honorary chairman of Corzine’s campaign who complains that Marra has dragged the ”dedicated professionals” in the office into politics. The letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder obtained by PolitickerNJ.com:

TO:       U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

CC:     Ralph Marra,
Acting U.S. Attorney for the State of New Jersey
Newark U.S. Attorney’s Office   970 Broad Street, 7th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102

From:   Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.
237 Cannon Building
Washington,D.C. 20515

August 26, 2022

The Honorable Eric Holder, United States Attorney General:

In light of comments originating from the United State Attorney’s Office last night following the announced resignation of Assistant United States Attorney Michele Brown, I want to convey significant concerns with the way the office has handled the Corzine Campaign’s requests for information to this point as well as Acting United States Attorney Ralph Marra’s public comments regarding this matter.

In Mr. Marra’s letter to the entire staff in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he characterized the information requested as a “barrage of requests” and termed them “political”.  In fact, it was more than 161 days ago that his office received basic Freedom of Information Act requests for the schedules, travel records and other pertinent information relevant to the public trust.  Had his office continued to delay the release of this routine information based on completely reasonable, routine and legal reasons, that would be cause enough for concern.  But last night’s comments from the Acting U.S. Attorney, whose neutrality in the face of the law is of paramount importance, make it clear that he has completely compromised any sense of neutrality. I regard this as a serious breach of ethics.

These statements and actions – or lack of actions – by Mr. Marra, are even more disturbing in light of recent revelations about political, and non-political, activities undertaken by his predecessor, Chris Christie.  Recently, through Congressional testimony, we have learned that Mr. Christie, while he was U.S. Attorney, sought and took political advice regarding a potential run for governor directly from Karl Rove.  This appears to be a direct violation of the Hatch Act.  Further, when it came to light that the second Assistant United States Attorney, Michele Brown, had received an unreported loan from Mr. Christie that she was still in the process of paying back,  Mr. Marra’s office allowed her to continue overseeing the freedom of information requests.  This is despite the fact that they directly affected Mr. Christie, to whom she was personally indebted.  Mr. Marra’s refusal to heed calls to have Ms. Brown removed from handling the FOIA requests in question only compound his compromised neutrality in this matter.  Although Ms. Brown has chosen to resign immediately, Mr. Marra’s actions and comments only make the questions about the way his office is handling these public information requests persist.

I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know just how inappropriate I think the comments in Mr. Marra’s letter to staff were.  The dedicated professionals in that office have no agenda and work in a professional, non-partisan manner to make sure the law is properly enforced.  His internal e-mail appears to be an attempt to make basic requests for information appear to be somehow unfair and “political”.

The FOIA’s submitted in March were requests for the most basic of information and should be filled immediately.  Again, the records the campaign is seeking include basic information from Chris Christie’s time as United States Attorney including budgets , travel expenses and schedules.  The requests are also for details of no-bid contracts Christie awarded, including the one given to former Attorney General John Ashcroft.  Further, the requests for Mr. Christie’s communications with former Bush political advisor Karl Rove, and communications between Mr. Christie and current officials in the United States Attorney’s office since Mr. Christie resigned as U.S. Attorney, are particularly relevant in light of everything reported in the press the past couple of weeks.

The United States Attorney’s office is filled with dedicated, driven, career professionals.  In Mr. Marra’s letter last night, he acknowledged that he is being investigated for his comments and actions with regard to the Bid Rig trial.  While this revelation comes as a surprise to myself and the public at large, I believe it speaks even stronger to the need for Mr. Marra to immediately provide the basic information requested through the public information requests, or step aside from that process.

Sincerely,
Frank Pallone, Jr.
United States Congress

Here is Marra’s statement in response to Pallone’s letter:

We continue to see comments to the effect that certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relate to routine information that has not been turned over.  In fact, the information sought from all members of the executive office for a full seven years frequently includes references to highly confidential information.  In the thousands of pages gathered in this continuous process, there are, for example, countless direct and indirect references to non-public criminal and civil investigations, meetings with witnesses - many of whom came to us with the intention of providing information on a confidential basis to assist in investigations - and other information that must be minutely scrutinized here and by staff of the FOIA office in Washington.  As one might reasonably expect in dealing with a prosecuting agency that handles more than 900 criminal cases and many times that in civil cases each year, the task is further complicated by attorney-client privileges, attorney work product and other legal and privacy-issue concerns that one would expect to encounter in such a large request.

As we have said previously, we have devoted and continue and devote significant resources daily to the task of fulfilling these FOIA requests.  Some non-confidential information, including, for example, videotapes of press statements and related materials, have been provided to the requestor.  Hundreds of employee hours have been expended to accomplish the task to date, and more time is being expended every day.  Between this office and the FOIA office within the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in Washington, all reasonable efforts are being undertaken on a continuous basis to fulfill the requests.

This post has been updated.

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
Gov. Jon Corzine

Gov. Jon Corzine

Democratic New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has slightly risen in the polls but continues to trail former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) 51 percent-42 percent in the New Jersey governor’s race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. A July 14 poll had Corzine behind Christie 53 percent-41 percent.

The poll also found that 93 percent of New Jersey voters believe government corruption is a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem, which could help Christie, as 55 percent of voters believe that his experience as a prosecutor gives him enough experience to be governor. Thirty-five percent of voters disagree. In addition, 50 percent of voters said they associate corruption with the Democratic Party more so than the  Republican Party.

Chris Christie

Chris Christie

Corzine’s job rating rose slightly from 33 percent in last month’s poll to 36 percent in the latest poll. His disapproval rating dropped from 60 percent to 58 percent. However, the governor boasts an unfavorable opinion of 54 percent-37 percent, compared with 42 percent of New Jersey voters that have a favorable opinion of Christine and 26 percent that have an unfavorable opinion. Corzine has felt some backlash following last month’s corruption probe into New Jersey officials, despite the fact that he was not implecated in the case.