In guilty plea, Jersey City official says he arranged bribes between cooperating witness and Council President

Two Jersey City officials arrested in the July 23 corruption sweep pleaded guilty today to accepting bribes in exchange for real estate development approvals.

Maher Khalil, the city's former Assistant Director of Health and Human Services, admitted he accepted more than $72,000 from a federal cooperating witness, believed to be Solomon Dwek. Guy Catrillo, a city planning department official who unsuccessfully challenged City Councilman Steven Fulop last spring, said he took $15,000 in bribes from the same cooperating witness.

Khalil admitted to arranging meetings between the cooperating witness and several local officials who would, in exchange for bribes, exercise influence over development projects. He specifically identified Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega and Edward Cheatam, and said he converted cash payments into illegal campaign contributions from straw donors to Vega's re-election campaign.

"We are pleased with the progress we witnessed today and with the investigation as a whole," said Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra. "There's still plenty to do and we will press on accordingly." In guilty plea, Jersey City official says he arranged bribes between cooperating witness and Council President