Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna and his wife Anna have been indicted by the U.S. Attorney on charges of mail fraud and extortion.
The couple allegedly accepted bribes and used the cash for plastic surgery, dog accessories and gambling trips to Atlantic City. The bribes also included about $1,000 in department store gift cards and bottles of liquor, acording to the indictment.
Delle Donna has been mayor of this tiny northern Hudson County town of about 11,000 since 2002. Anna Delle Donna served on the town’s planning board during the same time period.
According to the indictment, the Delle Donnas allegedly took bribes from an unnamed local bar owner in the form of thousands of dollars in tickets to campaign events. In turn, they are accused of helping the bar owner get a variance for construction on a piece of property, get rid of citations for property violations and smooth over “problems” that the bar owner was having with the town’s police department and council.
In January, the the FBI raided the Delle Donnas’ home. News accounts at the time said the raid was likely related to a human trafficking ring that netted former bar owner Luisa Medrano and several others in 2005. The indictment did not specifically name Medrano as the “bar owner.”
The couple also allegedly diverted funds from the mayor's campaigns and those of several Township Council Members for personal use, then falsified the records. The donations were made by the bar owner, a real estate developer and a fire department official.
Dave Della Donna was affiliated with the Hudson County Democratic Organization. Today, the HCDO’s president, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, said that he is giving Della Donna the presumption of innocence and has not asked him to step down.
“I know Dave, I like Dave. I’ve always thought him to be a man of honesty and integrity, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Healy. “I can only say he’s been a good person and we’ll wait and abide by the events.”