Feds Drop Tainted Witness In NJ Political Witch-Hunt

The Justice Department is dropping its disreputable star witness in the latest trial of the 46-defendant “Bid Rig III” corruption case that helped propel former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to his state’s governorship last year. Christie’s image as a crime-fighting, cost-conscious reformer worthy of 2012 Presidential consideration has taken big hits during the last month.

More generally, the case illustrates a bipartisan pattern by which DOJ officials waste vast sums to help their cronies and themselves, with scant meaningful oversight by leaders of either party or career officials who lend their names to whitewashed internal investigations.

The first image-blow to the DOJ was the Oct. 27 acquittal of a Ridgefield mayor after the defense exposed mind-boggling ways that Christie’s team funded bank fraudster and brothel owner Solomon Dwek to inveigle local political candidates, rabbis and others into corruption schemes. Then the DOJ’s Inspector General Glenn Fine exposed Christie, right, on Nov. 9 as the nation’s leading abuser among federal prosecutors of wasting taxpayer money on government-funded trips that exceed spending limits. Bid Rig III federal prosecutors last week removed Dwek for unexplained reasons from the witness list for the trial of former state assemblyman Harvey Smith, 61. Authorities this week will try to prove in Newark’s federal courthouse that Dwek bribed Smith with $15,000 during the defendant’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign to become mayor of Jersey City.

The DOJ recently dropped corruption charges against Smith’s co-defendant and former aide, Richard Greene. Greene is expected to testify against his former boss. This would pick up a void from Dwek, whose credibility has been nearly destroyed by his $50 million bank fraud, his ownership of Caribbean cruise ship floating brothel, and his subsequent coddling by prosecutors who were funding him with hundreds of thousands of dollars to help obtain indictments.

The Justice Integrity Project documented the abuses by Dwek, Christie and his successors in our column “Politicians, Press Cheat Taxpayers By Ignoring DOJ’s Wasteful Witch-Hunts,” published Sept. 8 by Daily Censored, which features stories neglected by conventional media.

Prospering Through the Bush Purge
Our story showed how the Republican Christie, originally on the Bush DOJ’s list of U.S. attorneys to be fired in the 2006 purge of those not aggressive enough against Democrats, redeemed himself with Bid Rig III, in which all but one of the politician targets were Democrats. Although Dwek normally concentrated his contributions through the years to fellow Republicans he and his DOJ handlers focused on local Democratic aspirants. This avoided most who ran on the GOP 2009 ticket with Christie.
During Christie’s 2002-2008 term, he provided tens of millions of no-bid contracts to his Republican former DOJ colleagues in the private sector. The money, including up to $50 million for former Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft, left, was to monitor suspected corporate lawbreakers so they could avoid prosecution.

After Christie’s resignation his appointees promptly worked with Dwek to obtain the Bid Rig III indictments, which were in July 2009 to boost Christie’s reputation as a crime-fighter against Democrats during the gubernatorial campaign.  Upon election, Christie then gave state jobs to Ralph Marra, right, and Michele Brown, the top two federal prosecutors leading the office. Christie had invited Brown to his campaign launch party and loaned her $46,000. Christie neglected to file disclosures on the loan and pay taxes on the interest.

More important, a federal judge ruled last spring that candidates shouldn’t have been charged with bribery for accepting funds as if they were office-holders. The government is appealing the ruling, thereby keeping defendants in economic ruin and otherwise in limbo. Treating defendants as guinea pigs in a test case to expand the law is obviously unfair, especially given the political bias and government excesses  on display.

New Jersey’s senior U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat, wrote more than a year ago to the DOJ cataloguing the irregularities that had surfaced by then, and asking for a thorough investigation. Christie called his failures “an honest mistake.” Christie’s former colleagues at DOJ have not accused him of any misconduct, and he’s been allowed to pay his back taxes from his loan with no reported criminal sanctions.

New Scandal
Political pundits increasingly tout Christie as a prospective 2012 presidential nominee because of his image as a reformer who fights corrupt Democrats and saves taxpayer dollars.

But as DOJ’s inspector general prepared to resign after a 10-year term, he found that Christie and four other prosecutors routinely exceeded the government rate for lodging without justification from 2007 to 2008. Among the five also was Mary Beth Buchanan the DOJ’s former executive director of all 93 U.S. attorneys nationally and also notorious for political prosecutions. After her stint in Washington guiding “loyal Bushies” throughout the DOJ Buchanan became Pennsylvania’s U.S. attorney for its western district and went on a jihad against the local Democratic county coroner and consultant Dr. Cyril Wecht.

She relentlessly prosecuted the illustrious author and medical school professor on 84 felony changes, mostly for using his county fax machine for personal faxes costing the county $3.86 in his 20 years in office, as we’ve documented. The case cost Wecht, 79, $8.6 million to defend himself before all charges were dismissed. Far from forcing Buchanan out because of her partisan actions and waste of money, the Obama DOJ continued her until the end of October last year, when she resigned to run as a Republican candidate for congress.

Tickle the Wire commentator Allan Lengel summed up the matter in his column, “U.S. Attys Rip Off Taxpayers on Hotel Rooms,” saying:

The words “offensive” and “disgusting” and “criminal” best describe the findings of a Justice Department Inspector General report this week which found that five U.S. Attorneys stuck taxpayers with hefty hotel bills.

In other words, they went far beyond the allotted allowance for rooms. And the worst offender, the report said, was the New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie — who is now the state’s governor — who has crusaded against corruption. This sounds rather corrupt to me.

Also this fall, new crimes have been exposed by Bid Rig star witness Solomon Dwek, whom authorities are coddling with between $10,000 and $12,000 a month living expenses siphoned from remaining assets of his victims.

During the trial of former Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez, Dwek admitted that he bilked his former secretary in 2006 on her house sale, thereby destroying her credit. Last week, another example of Dwek’s perfidy and the government’s complicity surfaced during a guilty plea by Dwek’s business partner Barry Kantrowitz in Trenton’s federal court. The defendant conceded that he slipped $82,100 back to Dwek in 2007 and 2008 from assets hidden from a federal bankruptcy trustee.

The Newark Star-Ledger’s Ted Sherman provided context by reporting:

Dwek, the son of a respected Monmouth County rabbi, has admitted that before he became an informant, he had been operating a $400 million Ponzi scheme involving hundreds of properties in Monmouth and Ocean counties and laundering tens of thousands of dollars from friends, relatives and business connections.

Based on the above, we put more of the facts on record with New Jersey radio host Bob Carson in a weekend interview on “Carson’s Corner” at WRRC 107.7 FM, available by archive. Also, I wrote the New Jersey U.S. attorney’s office with several questions about the status of any internal investigations and prosecution tactics. “The Office has no comment,” responded spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael, “but we do have press releases which may interest you. All may be found on the public affairs section of our website.” Displayed there is an impressive range of indictments, guilty verdicts, and a recent DOJ award ceremony for prosecutors.

But our system’s crown jewel is due process at trials, not mere allegations. And in the Bid Rig III case, DOJ has shown repeatedly that it prefers better career opportunities, not oversight, for those within its ranks who abuse their powers.

Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or comment