Jersey City officials Leona Beldini and Ed Cheatam were the first of 44 allegedly corrupt public officials and money launderers indicted after last month’s sweeping corruption bust.
Beldini, the 74-year-old Deputy Mayor, and Cheatam, the 61-year-old former Jersey City Housing Authority commissioner and a Hudson County affirmative action officer, were each charged with one count of extortion by a federal grand jury today.
Beldini allegedly took $20,000 for herself and in illegal campaign contributions to Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s (identified in the indictment as “Jersey City Official 1”) reelection campaign, for which she was the treasurer. In exchange, she allegedly agreed to help the government’s informant, later identified as failed developer Solomon Dwek, with development projects. Cheatam and the late political consultant Jack Shaw, the circumstances of whose death shortly after his arrest last month have yet to be solved, allegedly converted the cash into payments to Healy’s campaign.
Cheatam is charged with taking $15,000 in bribes from the informant.
Healy has not been charged.