Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a state grand jury today indicted a South Jersey man on charges that he paid a bribe to an official of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) in an attempt to get a higher purchase price from the agency for his property in Atlantic City. The official immediately reported the alleged crime.
Anthony J. Christaldi, 69, of Cape May Court House, ate a charge of second-degree bribery. It is alleged that in January 2014, Christaldi paid $10,000 as a bribe to an official who handles real estate purchases for the CRDA’s voluntary land bank program.
According to Hoffman, Christaldi contacted the CRDA in January about his desire to sell a property at 204 Atlantic Avenue to the agency for its redevelopment program. He submitted paperwork proposing a $157,500 purchase price, which was rejected by the official involved in the case. Christaldi, who spoke to the official by phone, told her he would reduce the price to $75,000 and would submit new paperwork seeking an expedited sale. It is alleged that Christaldi subsequently delivered an envelope to the official containing the required paperwork, along with $1,000 in cash and a note indicating that if a sales price of $105,000 were approved for the lot, representing $30 per square foot, he would pay her an additional $9,000 in cash, or if a price of $40 per square foot were approved, he would pay her $15,000. The official immediately alerted the legal department of the CRDA, which alerted the Division of Criminal Justice. In a subsequent undercover investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, Christaldi allegedly delivered $9,000 on Jan. 16 to a man who he believed was the brother of the CRDA official, but who in fact was an undercover detective. Detectives stopped Christaldi’s car and arrested him after he left the convenience store where he delivered the cash.
“To prevent official misconduct, we vigorously prosecute not only corrupt public officials, but also those private citizens who try to bribe public servants and solicit corrupt behavior,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “This defendant allegedly assumed that the official he encountered would shell out more public funds for his benefit, as long as she got a cut. But the official did the right thing by helping us to ensure that the alleged bribe-payer will face justice.”
“Those who seek to bribe public officials pose a serious threat to the integrity of government,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These cases are a top priority for us, and, as here, we will take aggressive investigative action, including undercover action, to detect and prosecute corruption offenses.”
Deputy Attorneys General Peter Lee and Valerie Butler presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The lead detectives were Detective John Sheeran and Detective Paul Marfino of the Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Sgt. Robert Feriozzi Jr.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Cape May County, where Christaldi will be ordered to appear in court at a later date to be arraigned on the charges.