Eleven public officials charged in federal corruption probe
A federal corruption probe has led to the arrest of 11 public officials, including two mayors, one of whom is also a state assemblyman. The officials are accused of taking bribes from a supposed insurance brokerage company comprised of two cooperating witnesses and FBI agents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.
Passaic, N.J., Mayor Samuel Rivera and state Assemblyman and Orange, N.J., Mayor Mims Hackett, Jr., were arrested Thursday and charged with demanding and taking cash bribes ranging from $1,500 to $17,500 to influence the award of public contracts. Also arrested were Passaic City Councilman Marcellus Jackson; former Passaic City Councilman Jonathan Soto; Keith Reid, chief of staff to the president of the Newark, N.J., City Council president; Assemblyman and Passaic County Undersheriff Alfred Steele; five current and former members of the Pleasantville, N.J., School District; and a Pleasantville private citizen.
The probe began in 2006 as an investigation of corruption in the Pleasantville School District and expanded when members of the school district charged in the case referred the cooperating witnesses to other public officials. Staff members for Rivera, Hackett, Jackson, Soto and Newark City Council President Mildred Crump said they had no comment on the charges. A full copy of the U.S. Attorney’s press release and complaints against the suspects are available at www.usdoj.gov