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Arrests Expose Widespread Corruption in Garden State

A ten-year long investigation into sprawling corruption in New Jersey culminated Thursday after an informant's tips led to the arrests of 44 people, including three mayors and multiple rabbis. Dina Temple-Raston of National Public Radio examines the case with Margaret Warner.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, a major corruption scandal in New Jersey. Margaret Warner has our story.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    From city halls to synagogues, a sweeping federal probe of corruption in New Jersey netted mayors, assemblymen and rabbis yesterday. Forty-four people were charged in a years-long, two-track probe of international money laundering through Jewish charities and of bribe-taking by state and local officials.

    The breadth and brazenness of the charges shocked a state that has become infamous for official graft. Ed Kahrer of the FBI.

  • ED KAHRER, FBI:

    New Jersey's corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation. Corruption is not only pervasive; it has become ingrained in New Jersey's political culture.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The two tracks of the case were united by one FBI informant, a failed businessman named Solomon Dwek, arrested three years ago for attempted bank fraud. Dwek first helped build the money-laundering case against figures in the tight-knit Syrian Jewish community spanning New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. Five rabbis allegedly laundered millions of dollars through charities they ran in exchange for a percentage.

    Nabbed as part of this, a Brooklyn man accused of brokering human kidneys obtained from down-on-their-luck Israelis. U.S. attorney Ralph Marra.

    RALPH MARRA, acting U.S. Attorney, New Jersey: His business was to entice vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000, which he, in turn, would turn around and sell for $160,000.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Informant Dwek also helped build the political corruption case by posing as a real estate developer offering bribes to public officials. He apparently had plenty of takers. Among the 21 mayors, council members, city officials, and assemblymen arrested, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, Peter Cammarano, who took office just weeks ago.

  • MAYOR PETER CAMMARANO, Hoboken, New Jersey:

    I look forward to a day in court to vigorously defend against these charges and to redeem my name and clear my name.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    In all, more than 130 New Jersey officials have been found guilty of corruption in just the last eight years.

    The case could reverberate in New Jersey's upcoming governor's race. A member of Governor Jon Corzine's cabinet resigned yesterday after agents raided his home.

    And for more on the story, we turn to Dina Temple-Raston. She's been covering it for National Public Radio.

    Dina, good evening. This is breathtaking in its scope, I mean, from money-laundering rabbis to politicians apparently eager to sell their influence. How did the FBI get on to all of this?

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