HOBOKEN – Peter Cammarano, the former Hoboken mayor caught in a statewide federal anti-corruption sting, was officially disbarred on Wednesday in a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling.
“An elected official who sells his office — who offers favored treatment to a private developer in exchange for money — betrays a solemn public trust,” wrote Justice Barry Albin in his ruling. “This form of corruption is corrosive to our democracy and undermines public confidence in honest government, and its rippling pernicious effects are incalculable.”
Cammarano was arrested as part of a wide-ranging anti-corruption sting, known as Operation Bid Rig, on July 23, 2009, only 22 days after being sworn in as Hoboken’s mayor. He resigned his office at the end of that month. Cammarano plead guilty in 2010 to accepting $25,000 in corrupt payments from real-estate developer Solomon Dwek, an FBI informant who was a key figure in the sting.
The former Mile Square City mayor sat down with Dwek several times at the Malibu Diner in Hoboken in the spring and summer of 2009. Cammarano, then facing off against Dawn Zimmer in a Hoboken mayor’s race, agreed to back Dwek’s ostensible real-estate deals in exchange for campaign funds. Zimmer would ultimately succeed Cammarano.
The anti-corruption effort that netted Cammarano, led by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, boosted Christie’s successful 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
Cammarano’s law license had been temporarily suspended since April 2010. The state Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) had recommended suspension, while the state Office of Attorney Ethics had recommended disbarment.
In his ruling, Albin held fast to the idea that any lawyer’s involvement in a public corruption bribery scheme “invariably triggers automatic disbarment.”
“An attorney who engages in this form of public corruption, forsaking his oath of office and the oath taken when admitted to the bar, should expect that he will be disbarred,” Albin wrote. “Any discipline short of disbarment will not keep faith with the Court’s charge to insure that the public will have confidence in members of the bar and in those attorneys who are privileged to serve as public officials.”
Cammarano offered no comment.