Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leona Beldini is Deputy Mayor of Jersey City Arrested

Leona Beldini is a Deputy Mayor of Jersey City arrested this morning in an FBI sting. See video below, as well as updates as available. See update 2-13-10 below.
 

Leona Beldini
Leona Beldini serves as a Deputy Mayor to Jersey City, NJ mayor, Jerramiah T. Healy. Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, Joseph Castagna, Guy Catrrillo, John Guarini, Maher A. Khalil and Michael Manzo were also arrested. The formal charges are "conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right." Beldini is charged with taking $20,000.00 in illicit campaign contributions using straw donors. Mayor Healy has announced all those listed above have been immediately suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the case. It appears Mayor Healy may have some problems of his own. City leaders are asking him to step down:
“Given Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s confirmation that he is indeed the “JC Official 4” cited in FBI criminal complaints, we call for his immediate resignation, as well as that of Council President Mariano Vega. The implication that both men have engaged in activities that compromise their ethical responsibilities to their constituents warrants their immediate removal from office,” said Levin.
Healy was not arrested, but is mentioned frequently in the federal government’s complaint against Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, city official Ed Cheatam and political consultant Jack Shaw, who allegedly solicited money from a federal informant to funnel into Healy’s reelection fund.
In March 2009 Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop accused Healy of using city property to display campaign banners, while admitting that a precedent had been set years ago for using city property to campaign purposes. Fulop said the practice needs to stop because it is doubtful that anyone else would be allowed to do the same. According to the Jersey City Independent, Leona Beldini, 74, is charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Deputy Mayor or Jersey City). Other Jersey City charges:
• Mariano Vega, 59, of Jersey City, NJ, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Jersey City Council President; director of the Hudson County Department of Parks, Engineering and Planning) • Moshe Altman, 39, of Monsey, NY, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right and money laundering (Developer) • Joseph Castagna, 53, of Jersey City, NJ, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Health Officer with the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services) • Guy Catrillo, 54, of Jersey City, NJ, charged with attempted extortion under color of official right (Recent Jersey City Ward E City Council candidate; Jersey City planning aide; member of the Mayor’s Action Bureau) • John Guarini, 59, of Bayonne, NJ, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Jersey City building inspector) • Maher A. Khalil, 39, of Jersey City, NJ, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right & attempted extortion (Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services deputy director; former member of the Jersey City Zoning Board of Adjustment) • Michael Manzo, 53, of Jersey City, NJ, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Former Jersey City Ward B City Council candidate; employee of the Jersey City Fire Department)
Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop has asked for Councilman Vega's resignation.

Update 2-13-10:
Leona Beldini was found guilty on two of six corruption counts: guilty of accepting $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions from an informant, Solomon Dwek posed as a developer, handing out money from "cash-filled envelopes". Sentencing is scheduled for June 1st. Beldini faces up to 20 years in prison, but probably much fewer.
Beldini’s lawyer, Brian J. Neary, denounced the verdict, saying it was "inconsistent" for jurors to acquit her of extortion, yet convict her of bribery. Both the extortion and bribery counts accused her of accepting the same $20,000 in campaign donations on behalf of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, who has not been charged. And they both accused her of agreeing to help the informant secure zoning changes for a 750-unit luxury condominium complex he claimed to be building.
Ms. Beldini has quite a background. Take a look at her photo from the Burlesque Hall of Fame at Wyblog.






Leona Beldini Arrest Video



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