A real estate developer and landlord of commercial buildings in Palisades Park appeared in federal court today to face a criminal complaint charging him with allegedly soliciting a $50,000 bribe payment for a Palisades Park borough official, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Chung S. Kho, 68, of Fort Lee is charged by complaint with one count of using facilities in interstate commerce to promote bribery. Kho appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and was released on $50,000 unsecured bond.
According to the complaint:
Beginning in October 2010, Kho met with an individual (“Individual #1”) who sought to open a karaoke business at a multi-unit commercial building owned by Kho. Kho guaranteed that there would be no problem in obtaining a necessary change of use permit from Palisades Park to operate a karaoke business at the location. Kho bragged about his close relationship with a Palisades Park borough official who had previously assisted him with the development of other large-scale commercial buildings in Palisades Park.
Individual #1 entered into a lease agreement with Kho in October 2010 for the commercial space to open the karaoke business. In December 2010, Kho allegedly told Individual #1 that the official would obtain the necessary approvals for the karaoke business if Individual #1 paid the official a $50,000 bribe. Over the next few days, Individual #1 attempted to negotiate a lower amount, but was eventually told by Kho that the official would accept nothing less than $50,000 in cash. By the time Individual #1 agreed to pay $50,000 to the official, Kho informed Individual #1 that it was too late to make the payment. On Dec. 15, 2010,
Individual #1’s application for a change of use was denied by the Palisades Park Planning Board.
The charge of using facilities in interstate commerce to promote bribery with which Kho is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division, Garret Mountain Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Larsen, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacques S. Pierre of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.