N.J. officials, N.Y. rabbis caught in federal money laundering, corruption sweep
by Joe Ryan/The Star-Ledger
NEWARK -- A New Jersey assemblyman and the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus were among public officials arrested this morning by FBI agents in an international money laundering and corruption probe that includes rabbis in the Syrian Jewish communities of Deal and Brooklyn.
Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Denis Elwell and Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega are among those who have been already been brought to the FBI building in Newark. Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini has also been arrested. A total of 30 people have been taken into custody, officials said.
The arrests are the result of a two year probe that began with an investigation of money transfers by members of the Syrian enclaves in Deal and Brooklyn. Those arrested this morning include key religious leaders in the tight-night, wealthy communities.
The federal investigation then expanded into a public corruption probe.
No indictments have been released, though court appearances are expected later today in U.S. District Court in Newark. Nearly 20 people have already been led into the FBI building in Newark as the sweep continues to unfold in two states.
Agents also raided religious institutions to make arrests and collect information.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the IRS took out at least three boxes from the Deal Yeshiva, as students were arriving at the s school. The Deal Yeshiva, on the corner of Brighton and Norwood avenues, is a prestigious religious school in town.
Authorities also searched the Ohel Yaacob synagogue on Ocean Avenue in Deal and removed several boxes.
Assemblyman Van Pelt, 44, is also the of Ocean Township, a post he has held since 1988. He holds degrees from The College of New Jersey (Criminal Justice) and Regent University (Public Policy and Government).
Cammarano, 32, was elected mayor of Hoboken in June. He was elected Hoboken City Councilman-at-Large in 2005. According to his campaign website, Cammarano is an attorney at the law firm of Genova, Burns, & Vernoia, which has offices in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Cammarano previously worked as a law clerk for Superior Court Judge Kevin Callahan in Jersey City. He is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Association of the Federal Bar of the State of New Jersey, as well as the bar associations for Hudson, Bergen and Essex Counties. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at Montclair State University.
Elwell, 64, has served for more than two decades as mayor and a member of the town council. Elwell and his council slate recently won victory in their contested Democratic June primary contests.
Elwell is the president of a family-owned trucking company. He is a former Secaucus Board of Education member and a decorated Vietnam combat veteran.
[Hat Tips: Joel Katz, Yisroel By The Bay, DF, Vicki Polin.]