Former Assemblyman Louis Manzo (D-Jersey City), who was arrested last month for allegedly taking bribes from an FBI informant, still faces a civil suit from a former fundraiser who says he owes her $40,000 for his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic State Senate nomination in 2007.
Dannielle Transue Leigh says that Manzo paid her $2,000 per month but skipped out on the 12% sum of total money raised he agreed to pay her once the campaign was over.
The two sides are set to meet for arbitration in Superior Court tomorrow morning, but it is unlikely to resolve the dispute. Both plan to appeal if the arbitrator rules against them, continuing a case that has dragged on since shortly after state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham (D-Jersey City) defeated Manzo in the June, 2007 Democratic primary.
Monthly payments to Transue Leigh appear in Manzo's ELEC reports, but Manzo in an affidavit denied that he entered into a contract for fundraising services with her.
"He's under criminal investigation and he's perjured himself. It just boggles the mind," said Transue Leigh, who originally sued for $15,000 in small claims court because she wanted to get the case over with quickly but said that, after repeated delays, she decided to go to trial for the larger sum that more accurately reflects her losses.
Transue Leigh said that she entered into an agreement with Manzo that she would earn $2,000 per month – half of the rate she normally charged – in exchange for a 12% share of the total raised. That 12% share, she said, is the money she says she was never paid. The arrangement was Manzo's idea, and Transue Leigh said she suspects that he never intended to pay her.
Manzo attorney Libero Marotta said that Transue Leigh is asking for money that she did not raise, since Manzo loaned himself just shy of $260,000 in the campaign, which raised a total of $441,000.
"If you look at the reports, I think the majority of the money that went in was Louie's money," said Marotta. "We're denying everything. We don't owe her anything."
But Transue Leigh did not include the money Manzo lent himself in her post-campaign invoices. The $40,000 she's asking for includes legal fees and penalties for damages. The original amount she billed was only $23,262.
"I had to close my business, because that's a huge chunk of money. I had counted on that money to get me through the summer and I'd pick up a client in the fall," she said.
Transue Leigh's attorney, Peter Tucci, called Marotta this morning to try to negotiate a settlement, but Marotta refused.