Nine years after the campaign ended, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has fined former disgraced Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano’s 2009 slate with over $95,000 in fines for not properly reporting over $1 million in transactions.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
” … The Respondents’ Joint Candidate Committee (“JCC”) failed to timely report over $1,000,000.00 in runoff election transactions, and some of the required information was
still unreported as of the date of the Court’s opinion. There are also charges of knowingly accepting excessive contributions,” the decision, released by NJ ELEC on Wednesday, says.
The ruling is against Cammarano and his three council-at-large running mates: Vincent Addea, Angel Alicea and Raul Morales II. Campaign treasurer Lucy Truglio is also named in the complaint.
The ruling also alleges that the team received two $5,000 contributions from “Solomon Dwek – David Essenbach” – one on May 8, 2009 and another on May 19, 2009, as well as a $10,000 contribution on July 16th, 2009 – exceeding the $10,400 aggregate contribution limit for the election.
While Cammarano bested Dawn Zimmer in the June 9th, 2009 runoff election by just 161 votes, Zimmer’s running mates Ravi Bhalla, Dave Mello and Carol Marsh won the three council seats up for grabs.
After just 22 days in office, Cammarano was arrested as part of Operation Big Rig, where he was accused of accepting $25,000 in cash bribes from an undercover cooperating witness – later identified as Dwek.
Cammarano ultimately pleaded guilty and served 24 months in prison before losing his law license years later.
Meanwhile, this paved the way for Zimmer to become acting mayor and served two full terms before deciding not to seek re-election last year.
Interestingly, the final decision indicates that Addeo and Morales “are not liable for any violations arising from the Dwek bribes” since “they had no knowledge of the transactions.”
Similar language is used addressing Alicea’s involvement.
“Respondent Alicea is not liable for elicited bribes committed by Cammarano during the campaign,” additionally, “is not liable for any violations caused by the Cammarano Municipal Committee’s reporting.”
Nevertheless, the commission ultimately ruled that they all are in fact still liable for the infractions in question.
The total fine levied against the slate is $95,330 and each respondent has the right to appeal the decision.
Cammarano and his former running mates could not be reached for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story identified the ELEC fine amount as over $85,000 when it is actually over $95,000.