Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez was indicted today on charges that he took a bribe in exchange for his help on a local real estate development issue. Suarez, who has steadfastly refused to resign, was among the large group of public officials arrested last July as part of the federal government's Operation Bid Rig probe.
Former Guttenberg Board of Education member Vincent Tabbachino, who allegedly funneled the bribe money into Suarez's legal defense fund, was also indicted.
According to the indictment, Suarez conspired with Tabbachino to extort a cash payment from a cooperating witness – widely believed to be Solomon Dwek — in exchange for helping with development approvals in Ridgefield. Suarez allegedly agreed to have a $10,000 cash payment provided to Tabbachino, from which Tabbachino wrote a $2,500 check from his business account in June 2009 for the benefit of Suarez, disguising the true origin of the payment.
Tabbachino is accused of writing a check from his company, Tabbachino Associates, to a legal defense fund Suarez formed to defray personal expenses related to a civil lawsuit. The indictment alleges that Suarez wanted the payment to go to his fund to avoid any legal reporting requirements. He is also charged with money laundering; he allegedly accepted three checks from the cooperating witness totaling $100,000 that he believed to be from a counterfeit handbag business, and took a 10% cut before returning the rest of the money.