Former Passaic Mayor Gets 27 Months in Prison

Alex Blanco Max Pizarro/Observer

Alex Blanco, the former mayor of Passaic, was sentenced to 27 months in prison today for taking $110,000 in bribes from developers.

Blanco, 45, faced up to 10 years in prison for soliciting and taking bribes from two developers in exchange for green-lighting an affordable housing project in Passaic. Federal prosecutors charged that in 2011, Blanco met several times with the two developers to collect the money and also sent an intermediary beforehand to arrange the bribes.

Much of the money paid out to Blanco came from U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.

Blanco, a Democrat and the first person of Dominican descent to be elected mayor of a U.S. city in 2008, pleaded guilty in November.

“Mayor Blanco admitted to aggressively soliciting and accepting illegal payments from developers, taking for himself federal money that was intended to help provide housing for some of the city’s poorest residents,” acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “This case demonstrates that public officials who exploit their office for personal gain can expect to be thoroughly investigated and aggressively prosecuted.”

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge William J. Martini ordered Blanco, a podiatrist by trade, to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $110,000 in restitution.

“What I did was wrong and I apologize to the city, the people of the city who trusted me and I apologize to my wife who will now have to carry the load and raise our four sons,” Blanco said in court, according to The Record.

Former Passaic Mayor Gets 27 Months in Prison