Mayor to plead guilty of corruption

9 05 2008

(You first heard it yesterday, here on PCJN!)

PASSAIC — Mayor Samuel Rivera was expected to be in Trenton today, pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. But on Thursday, he was in City Hall as streams of well-wishers said their goodbyes.

Men and women stood in a line outside his office, crying. Even the mayor’s hefty bodyguard, Passaic police Detective Lucho Candelaria, was a little misty.

“He’s leaving, and we’re never going to see him again,” said the mayor’s secretary, Angely Ramirez, who wiped her eyes with tissues.

“It’s just sad for the people who knew him well,” Ramirez said between sniffles. “He helped a lot of people.”

Rivera, a former police detective who built his reputation on being tough on crime and cleaning up the streets, is expected to plead to a two-count indictment alleging he accepted a $5,000 bribe and the promise of another $50,000, in exchange for lucrative insurance contracts with the city. Rivera’s plea hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Trenton.

In an interview Thursday evening with Univision 41, a Spanish-language news channel, Rivera sat down with a reporter and said in Spanish, “I have to resign.”

Julio Luciano, the mayor’s assistant, carried cardboard boxes out of the office. Later, he stood on the steps of City Hall, smoking a cigarette and shaking his head.

“He gave a lot of people jobs and helped a lot of police,” Luciano said. “The people that don’t like him are going to see: Passaic is going to be bad. Without him, there will be a lot of gangs and dirty streets.”

Ramirez said Rivera would not see reporters in his office: “He’s not in a good mood right now,” she said.

Then, about noontime, Rivera emerged from his office. A group of employees surrounded him as he made his way out of City Hall. He shook their hands and embraced them.

When asked whether he had resigned, he simply shook his head and said, “No.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, offering a handshake. If convicted, Rivera faces up to 30 years in prison on both offenses as well as up to $250,000 in fines on each.

Under state law, once Rivera pleads guilty, he must resign.

Rivera, along with former Councilmen Jonathan Soto and Marcellus Jackson, was accused of taking bribes from undercover FBI agents in exchange for working to get public contracts for a fake insurance company, called Coastal Solutions LLC. The officials were arrested in September as part of a statewide FBI sting dubbed “Operation Broken Boards.”

Jackson pleaded guilty in December and resigned from the council in January. Soto awaits trial.

Neither prosecutors nor Rivera’s attorney, Henry Klingeman, would comment on whether a plea agreement had been struck.

Thus far, all but five public officials have pleaded guilty to being part of the scheme. Among them are former state Assemblyman Alfred Steele, D-Paterson; Jackson, of the Passaic City Council, Pleasantville school board members Rafael Velez, Jayson Adams and James Pressley, and Pleasantville Councilman Peter Callaway. All await sentencing.




5 responses

9 05 2008
a tax payer

Well what do you know? Am I surprised? LOL What took so long? After all the stunts this criminal has pulled. Wow!

Sammy’s driver is misty? He should be thankful he’s not going to prison too. I’m sure he was around for a dirty deal or two. Maybe he’s misty because he will have to work? Instead of fleecing the taxpayers for $80,000 a year to chauffer the criminal mayor around.

So when is the FBI going to get the rest of the crew. How about the police supervisors who forced so called fundraiser (payoff) tickets down honest cops throats? How about the corrupt Internal Affairs supervisors and detectives who harassed honest cops at the beck and calling of the criminal mayor. They know who they are!

We need to clean house here. All of them. City Council, and Board of Ed. Didn’t the criminal mayor say he could get the BOE on board with this scam? Or was that Soto? Or Jackson?

So, no matter what good the criminal mayor may have done. He ended in disgrace. A total disgrace.

“What a man soweth he also reapeth”!

10 05 2008
Passaic Resident

“He gave a lot of people jobs and helped a lot of police,” Luciano said. “The people that don’t like him are going to see: Passaic is going to be bad. Without him, there will be a lot of gangs and dirty streets.”

Are you serious? You have got to be joking, right? Your telling me that our great and wonderful mayor who is involved in a scandalous political corruption case, is actually the best thing for Passaic? How can you even begin to think that makes sense. Well of course your sad to see him go, there goes your career. I mean Passaic is really doomed if the best we can do is Sammy Rivera. That comment is sickening to read.

11 05 2008
a tax payer

I agree with Passaic Resident! I feel bad for the 150 plus police applicants who were passed over so his high school drop out daughter could be hired. Some with college educations! Who was doing the backround checks. Do I detect criminal mal-pheasense? So now lets fire Mr. Luciano and all the phony baloney hires.

I can’t wait to see the next saga in this debacle. “The Johnny Soto Show” !!!!!

Since he swore his innocence, can everyone who donated to the criminal mayor’s defense fund get their money back? Yeah, right! LOL LOL

2 08 2008

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah!!! You people talk all that junk but name one Passaic mayor that did any good for the city besides Samuel Rivera, REALLY!!! If you think that you can do better then run for mayor. See how easy it is. I remember pretty well that before my father became mayor that the streets were nasty with hookers on the corners near 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th St and Wall St. and drug dealers were very comfortable hustling in the streets. If he was so bad then why did they vote for him to be mayor more than once? And my sister had her High School Diploma. Keep listen to the news and stay ignorant.

2 08 2008

And what about Assemblyman Gary Schaer, who is very corrupt.

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