Trenton Mayor Tony Mack faces bribery and extortion charges after
becoming ensnared in a 2010 sting operation with would-be developers
who were actually government informants.
Under the scheme, the developers would buy city property for the
garage for $100,000 less than the land was worth, and the Democratic
mayor would receive money in exchange, prosecutors say.
The mayor's brother Ralphiel is accused of acting as a bag man to
pick up the bribe money, prosecutors said. The informants offered a
bribe of $119,000, about $54,000 of which changed hands, prosecutors
Mack, 48, who remains in office, his brother and another go-between,
Joseph Giorgianni, used code words to discuss their plans, Assistant
U.S. Attorney Eric Moran said in his closing statement to the jury
in U.S. District Court in Trenton.
The words "Uncle Remus" were code for cash that was destined as a
bribe for the mayor, he said.
Stopping for pizza at a steak house run by Giorgianni was code for
picking up the bribe money, Moran told the jury. The code words were
picked up in telephone conversations secretly recorded by law
enforcement, he said.
"Tony Mack did not ask any questions," Moran said. "He understood
just what they meant. He knew just what they were talking about — bribery."
Mack, who was arrested in September 2012, has been accused by
critics of nepotism and mismanagement since taking office in 2010 in
the crime-plagued, economically depressed city of 85,000 people. He
was reportedly deeply in debt at the time of his arrest.
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The prosecutor said in April 2012 that the mayor received a bribe
payment, citing as evidence that the mayor promptly went to a local
tax office to pay an overdue bill.
Mack and his brother are charged with extortion, accepting bribes
and scheming to defraud. Giorgianni pleaded guilty in December and
Defense attorneys for the brothers were slated to present closing
arguments on Wednesday.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Ken Wills)
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