The Jersey Journal reports that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of former Assemblyman Rudy Garcia on money laundering charges connected to an alleged $500 million illegal sports betting ring. Garcia, a former Union City Mayor who is now a partner at MBI-GluckShaw, a top Trenton lobbying firm, was out of state yesterday when police attempted to arrest him. His attorney told the Jersey Journal that Garcia was making arrangements to turn himself in.
“He had absolutely nothing to do with the operation of, or promoting of, gambling. He may have placed some bets, but that’s the extent of it,” said Garcia’s attorney, Stephen Turano.
Garcia’s wife, Nicole Harrison Garcia, is the Hudson County Democratic Organization candidate for State Assembly, running on a slate with Sal Vega.
Garcia, 43, was a rising star in state politics as a protege of Robert Menendez. He won a 1993 Special Election Convention for State Assembly to replace Bernard Kenny, who had moved up to the Senate when Menendez went to Congress. He became Mayor of Union City when Bruce Walter died in 1998.
Within a year, Garcia split with Menendez and sought to exercise the clout that comes with being Mayor. He forged an alliance with County Executive Bob Janiszewski and dumped Menendez ally Neftali Cruz from his seat on the Hudson County Board of Freeholders; Cruz’s seat was filled by Stack, who was a local rival of Menendez and Garcia, and who ran unsuccessfully for City Commissioner the year before. And he fired Menendez’s best friend, powerful North Jersey lawyer Donald Scarinci, as the City Attorney.
But Garcia’s own ambition proved to exceed his own leadership abilities, and he quickly lost support in Union City. Stack forged a relationship with Menendez and together they engineered a recall effort that forced Garcia’s resignation as Mayor in 2000 and took away his seat in the State Assembly in 2001.