Details of Passaic Bribery Arrests

6 09 2007

Bribery bust details: ‘Will need that

green broccoli for the 1st entree’

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 09/6/07

BY MICHAEL RISPOLI
AND JONATHAN TAMARI
GANNETT STATE BUREAU

Details of the accusations made in federal court Thursday against the 11
public officials arrested on charges of accepting bribes are:

— Assemblyman Alfred E. Steele, D-Passaic, allegedly accepted $15,500 in cash from an undercover agent and two cooperating witnesses posing as insurance brokers looking for local contracts. In exchange, Steele allegedly arranged meetings with Paterson, Orange and Newark officials who were seeking government contracts. The Orange official is likely the city’s mayor, Mims Hackett Jr., who was also charged. Steele, a member of the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee, resigned as an undersheriff in Passaic County at noon today, said Bill Maer, spokesman for Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale.

— Passaic Mayor Samuel Rivera allegedly accepted $5,000 in cash in exchange for promising to help the purported insurance brokers become the city’s “broker of record.” According to the FBI’s account, Rivera, a Democrat, boasted of his influence with the City Council and Passaic Valley Water Commission. — Assemblyman Mims Hackett Jr., D-Essex, allegedly accepted $5,000 in cash to help stir up business for the brokers. Hackett is also mayor of Orange. — Former Passaic City Councilman Jonathan Soto allegedly accepted $12,500 in cash to help the brokers win business. In a text message the day after a key council vote, Soto, a Republican, wrote to a cooperating witness, “will need that green broccoli for the 1st entree.”

— Passaic City Councilman Marcellus Jackson, a Democrat, allegedly took $16,500 from the purported insurance brokers.

— Keith Reid, chief of staff to Newark City Council President Mildred Crump, met
with an undercover agent and cooperating witnesses who posed as an insurance brokerage business wanting to do business with government agencies. Reid said he had relationships with people “who we can pick up the phone and call who can open doors.” Acting as an intermediary, Reid helped them obtain government contracts from several municipalities, including Newark, and accepted $5,000 in cash payments for his assistance in trying to obtain contracts. Reid, a Democrat, also accepted money from the “business” to pass along to other officials.

— Jayson Adams, a member of the Pleasantville Board of Education, accepted $7,500 in cash payments from an undercover witness posing as a roofing business employee in exchange for the contracts, as well as agreeing to share profits generated from the supposed insurance brokerage business from the board. In addition, Adams, a Democrat, acted as an intermediary for other officials on the school board.

— Maurice “Pete” Callaway, a member of the Pleasantville Board of Education,
accepted a total of $11,500 in cash payments in exchange for votes in favor of steering roofing contracts, through intermediaries. He is a Democrat, An associate, Louis Mister, also a Democrat, accepted $1,500 of those payments.

— James T. McCormick, a former member of the Pleasantville Board of Education,
conspired with other board members and had $3,500 wired to his secret bank account in exchange for voting in favor of contracts for the “insurance” firm.

— Pleasantville Board of Education President James Pressley allegedly took $35,800 in cash and checks for helping the roofing and insurance companies. After taking one payment of $7,500, instead of the $25,000 he was expecting, Pressley, who is not affiliated with a political party, complained, “I went through a lot of aggravation last night (during a vote) because I was anticipating it. (The cooperating witness) told me that he would have the 25 ready for me today,” according to the FBI charges.

— Pleasantville Board of Education member Rafael Velez allegedly accepted $4,000 in cash from a cooperating witness in exchange for helping the insurance brokers. Another official charged in the scheme said he would steer another $10,000 to Velez, a Democrat, according to the FBI. 

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