Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell was sentenced to 30 months in prison today for accepting a $10,000 bribe in exchange for securing approvals on real estate projects in the township.
In July, Elwell was convicted of one count of bribery and acquitted on one count of conspiracy and one count of attempted extortion under color of official right.
According to court documents, on May 28, 2009, Elwell met with businessman and friend Ronald Manzo, Edward Cheatam and Solomon Dwek – a cooperating government witness – at LaReggia Restaurant at the Meadowlands Plaza Hotel in Secaucus.
During that meeting, Dwek played his usual role of a developer interested in building a large-scale real estate development in Secaucus. He offered Elwell $10,000 “green” in exchange for the mayor’s assistance in favor of his development projects. At the end of the meeting, Dwek gave $10,000 in cash – which was intended for Elwell – to Manzo in the parking lot of the restaurant. Elwell then took the $10,000 in cash from Manzo. On July 17, 2009, Elwell met with Cheatam, Manzo and Dwek at Secaucus Town Hall. During that meeting, Elwell confirmed that he had received the $10,000 in cash from Manzo, and that he was happy with it.