EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Louis Manzo avoided conviction in the largest public corruption case in New Jersey history by exposing faults in the government’s application of the Hobbs Act involving bribery of political candidates — a tactic never tried successfully before in the U.S. But is he happy? Nope. He’s mad as hell.
To prove it, Manzo says is writing a book that he promises will expose how highly-placed employees in the U.S. Attorney’s Office used “Big Rig III” to propel Gov. Chris Christie into the statehouse, and to advance their legal careers.
“Lou Manzo has already been disgraced and discredited by his own conduct,” Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning. “He has no credibility.”
Drewniak has said before that the ex-assemblyman and failed mayoral candidate is spinning “baseless conspiracy theory stuff,” and accused him of blaming others when “he was caught and prosecuted appropriately.”
Rebecka Carmichael, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, pointed to court documents in which the office had responded to the same assertions in the past.
U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark, while acknowledging secretly recorded tapes of Manzo and his brother admitting taking money, tossed out the corruption charges because Louis Manzo wasn’t a candidate or officeholder at the time – not because of any proven political motivation.
Hoewver, Manzo claims that Christie’s administration at the U.S. Attorney’s Office overlooked that fact in its zeal to help the boss become governor, as well as enhance their chances of eventually landing jobs in Trenton – direct violations of federal laws against Justice Department employees having a personal interest in the outcome of a prosecution, he said.
Louis Manzo began his campaign against Christie and the governor’s former employees in the U.S. Attorney’s Office with an exclusive story published on CLIFFVIEW PILOT:
EXCLUSIVE (July 11, 2011): Government crime fighters illegally brought charges against him in order to further their careers and that of Gov. Christie, who, as New Jersey’s chief U.S. prosecutor, oversaw a massive public corruption sweep that overwhelmingly targeted Democrats, former state Assemblyman and Jersey City mayoral candidate Louis Manzo tells CLIFFVIEW PILOT, in an explosive series of emails. READ MORE….
During a presentation at Jersey City’s Miller Public Library, Manzo last night laid out, in specific detail, what he claimed were missteps and outright legal violations employed in arresting more than 40 elected officials, political candidates, city workers, and campaign volunteers.
He insisted that members of the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office believed they didn’t need to follow procedures or establish legal cases beyond a reasonable doubt because they were convinced that Hudson County has only two types of politicians – “the crooked and the dead.”
The probe was made possible by con artist Solomon Dwek.
Government agents arrested Dwek on fraud charges in 2006 after he deposited a bad check for $25.2 million at a drive-through bank window at the Shore and PNC bank accused him of swindling $50 million. As complaints mounted from people who said Dwek had conned them out of millions, his options for avoiding prison shrank.
So Dwek told federal agents he’d bribed people in South Jersey for favors, and he “knew what he was doing,” Manzo said.
It’s unclear when the government “rolled” him, but Dwek worked with the FBI long enough – secretly recording bribe acceptances from politicians and government officials — to help produce what’s being billed as the largest public corruption sweep in New Jersey history.
(CLIFFVIEW PILOT “outed” Dwek as the key operative as the “Bid Rig III” arrests were being made. SEE: Meet the cooperator behind N.J.’s biggest corruption bust ever )
Manzo said Dwek claimed to be talking with Monmouth County Sheriff Joe Oxley, currently a Christie candidate for a judgeship; Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore; and long-time prominent GOP fundraiser and political strategist Lawrence Bathgate.
All of these activities took place around the time of the 2008 Republican National Convention. Oxley later became the first prominent Republican to endorse Chris Christie for governor in a primary that didn’t occur until the following year.
According to Manzo, Christie instructed the Justice Department to get Dwek out of South Jersey and Republican politics. He was sent north to Hudson County, where the indictments of mostly Democrats could help get the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey elected governor, he said.
Linares, the judge, last month ruled that Manzo wasn’t entitled to have the government cover his legal fees and expenses, finding no proof of prosecutorial misconduct.
Manzo says his book is nearly finished. He’s also waiting for some trials to conclude and for Dwek to at long last be sentenced four years after being charged.
He claims some of the selective prosecutions are “unraveling,” and that an oversight investigation into violations of federal policies and procedures is long overdue for the Abscam-like investigation that became known as “Bid Rig III.”
Manzo exhorted the audience to use their power as citizens to object to any violations of their First Amendment rights and to use his case as an example.
“People have lost their liberty, their livelihoods, everything they had because people in the U.S. Attorney’s office used the sting to advance their own careers,” he said. “The government thinks you are either corrupt or dead if you’re in [Hudson], so elections don’t matter, your vote doesn’t matter.”