Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office’
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.

https://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.

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.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009
The former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is under fire as he runs for governor.

Chris Christie

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Wednesday it will not investigate Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie’s conversations with Karl Rove, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reported. Democrats had said the conversations, revealed by the House Judiciary Committee last month, were evidence that Christie’s term as the state’s U.S. Attorney had been tainted by politics.

Rove told the panel he’d spoken with Christie “twice in the last couple of years” about his political aspirations. The revelation caused a stir, because Christie at the time was the state’s U.S. Attorney. And the former White House deputy chief of staff is under congressional and DOJ investigation for his alleged role in politicizing federal prosecuting offices. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has attacked Christie for his contact with Rove. Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are barred from using their government offices to conduct political activities. The OSC investigaties Hatch Act violations.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of liberal-leaning Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, had asked OSC to look into the matter. It would “send a message,” Sloan told .

Karl Rove (Gov)

Karl Rove (Gov)

The OSC said it had no authority to discipline Christie, The Associated Press reported. Main Justice spoke with Erica Hamrick, deputy chief of the Hatch Act Unit in the Office of Special Counsel, who said OSC only has power to recommend the president take action against a federal employee, if OSC finds a violation of the Hatch Act. But Christie is no longer a federal employee. So the matter lies.

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Polls are all over the map for the race between Republican Chris Christie and Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine for New Jersey governor. Yesterday, Main Justice reported on a poll by Neighborhood Research — run by conservative strategist Rick Shaften, who was a consultant to Christie’s GOP primary opponent — that showed Christie with a narrow 2 percent lead among likely voters. Previous polls had the former U.S. Attorney in New Jersey leading the governor by as much as 12 percent.

Here’s a round-up of today’s poll results:

  • Rasumussen. Had Christie leading Corzine by 11 points, or 47 to 36 percent, PolitickerNJ reported. However, his lead drops to 8 points when “leaners” are factored in. A Rasmussen poll conducted three weeks ago had Christie ahead of Corzine by 13 points, or 50 to 37 percent.
  • Democracy Corps. Had Christie only two points ahead of Corzine, 43 to 41 percent, when results for independent Chris Daggett were included. Read the poll results here. Daggett garnered 7 percent support. Another Democracy Corps poll two weeks ago had Christie up by 5 points, or 40 to 35 percent over Corzine, with Daggett getting 10 percent.

The bright spot for the Republican: On the issue of reducing government corruption, voters trust Christie over Corzine, 47 to 25 percent, accoording to the new Rasmussen poll.  The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

The bad news for Christie: 51 percent viewed him unfavorably in today’s Rasumussen poll. Still, Corzine fared even worse, with a 61 percent unfavorable rating for the governor, who’s suffered from voter dissastisfaction over the economy. The poll of 500 likely voters was conducted Tuesday, after a week of bad news reports for Christie, including revelations that he’d discussed a run for governor with Bush White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove while he was still U.S. Attorney. It was also revealed that he’d made a $46,000 loan to a subordinate in the U.S. Attorney’s office that he didn’t report on his income tax or financial disclosure forms.