Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy – whose town had far more public officials busted today than anywhere else– said all of those arrested have been suspended without pay.
“Today’s arrests of several Jersey City public officials are shocking and dismaying. We are saddened by the negative light this has cast on our city and want to assure the public we have always conducted honest and open government,” said Healy in a statement. “We have had only one criterion when making policy decisions and that is – what is best for the city? We are immediately suspending without pay those city employees who were charged today pending the outcome of this case.”
Councilman Steve Fulop went a step further, calling on Council President Mariano Vega and Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini – both of whom were arrested for allegedly taking bribes — to resign.
“This is truly a dark day for Jersey City. Yet again, we are disgraced by the conduct of our city’s leadership and the far-reaching embarrassment their actions bring to the city. While the individuals named in today’s indictments deserve their day in court, the sheer scale and widespread nature of the allegations is an outrage to the people of our city,” said Fulop. “I am calling on Mayor Jerramiah Healy to suspend all city employees involved in this investigation, including Deputy Mayor Beldini, immediately and without pay. Further, I call on City Council President Mariano Vega, who is named in a complaint and arrested this morning, to resign his office immediately. Councilman Vega’s office has been compromised and he can no longer adequately represent the people of Jersey City underneath a cloud of suspicion and corruption.”
Over a dozen Jersey City officials and political figures were indicted today: former assemblyman and five-time mayoral candidate Lou Manzo and his bother Ronald; Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith, a former mayoral candidate, acting mayor and council president; Maher A. Khalil, the deputy director of the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services; former building inspector John Guarini, who now works as a taxi inspector; political consultant Joe Cardwell; political consultant Jack Shaw; former school board vice president Ed Cheatam, an affirmative action officer and commissioner with the Housing Authority; health officer Joseph Castagna; unsuccessful council candidates Jimmy King, Lori Serrano and Lavern Webb-Washington; planning aide/unsuccessful council candidate Guy Catrillo and fire fighter/unsuccessful council candidate Michael Manzo.
If that isn't enough bad news for Jersey City, Police Officer Marc DiNardo, who died earlier this week from wounds suffered during a gun battle last week that wounded four other officers, will be laid to rest tomorrow.