Feds: Ex-Hoboken Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia indicted in large-scale Newark bribery scheme

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Former Hoboken Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, also an ex-Newark official, has been indicted along with two Brick City businessmen, for allegedly soliciting corrupt payments in exchange for helping them acquire and redevelop properties, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachel Honig announced.

Carmelo Garcia stands in the audience during an August 26, 2014 meeting of the Hoboken Housing Authority, the first public meeting after he was fired as executive director.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Carmelo G. Garcia, 45, of Hoboken, Frank Valvano Jr., 52, of Florham Park, and Irwin Sablosky, 60, of Springfield, co-owners of a New Jersey-based pawnbroker and jewelry business, are charged with: one count of conspiracy to defraud the city of Newark and the NCEDC of Garcia’s honest services facilitated by the use of interstate wire transmissions; 17 counts of honest services wire fraud; and four counts of use of interstate facilities to promote and facilitate bribery in violation of the Travel Act.

Garcia is additionally charged with three counts of receiving bribes in connection with the business of a federally funded local government and organization and Valvano and Sablosky are additionally charged with three counts of offering those bribes.

All three men were initially charged by complaint back in November and Garcia had been identified as a co-conspirator in a separate but related case one month prior.

From at least 2017 through April 2019, while serving as a high-level Newark official, and prior to that, as an executive officer of the NCEDC (now known as Invest Newark), Garcia sought and received significant monetary payments and other benefits from Valvano, Sablosky, and others in exchange for Garcia’s use of his official positions and influence to advance real estate development matters of interest to Valvano and Sablosky.

This allegedly included securing Newark-approved redevelopment agreements (RDAs) to purchase and acquire various Newark-owned properties for redevelopment, and to ensure that Garcia did not use his influence and authority to act against their interests.

Garcia also received jewelry, including multiple high-end watches and chains, from Valvano’s and Sablosky’s pawnbroker and jewelry business, including a Rolex watch with a “Selling Price” of $8,900, a Cartier watch with a “Selling Price” of $3,295, an Omega watch with a “Selling Price” of $7,295, and a chain with a “Selling Price” of $9,345.

Phone records and text messages obtained by law enforcement show extensive communication between Garcia, Valvano, Sablosky, and others throughout this period of time, including text messages in which Garcia arranged to personally collect cash provided by Valvano and Sablosky.

In one instance, in June 2018, Garcia, then the City’s acting deputy mayor and director of the city’s Department of Economic and Housing Development (DEHD), received an envelope containing $25,000 in cash, supplied by Valvano through an intermediary, in the restroom of a New Jersey restaurant.

Text messages obtained by law enforcement show that Garcia used his personal cellular phone to coordinate the location and timing of the meeting.

In other text messages, Valvano and Sablosky discussed additional payments of money and jewelry the two had made to Garcia, and also to an associate of Garcia (identified in the indictment as “Individual 1”), as well as their ongoing efforts to obtain RDAs with the city to acquire and redevelop Newark-owned properties.

E-mails obtained by law enforcement further show the official actions, assistance, and influence Garcia provided in violation of his duties in exchange for the cash and other non-cash benefits he received from Valvano and Sablosky and the actions that Valvano and Sablosky were seeking from Garcia for those benefits.

Defendants also took steps to conceal their corrupt and fraudulent arrangement.

For example, they used coded language in their electronic communications to refer to the corrupt cash payments that Garcia accepted and agreed to accept, referring to the payments, for instance, as “docs” and “butter.”

Also, Valvano informally kept track of the money and jewelry that Garcia received from Valvano and Sablosky in the form of handwritten notes drafted in a manner intended to obscure Garcia’s identity.

The notes, for instance, included a list of figures, some annotated with dates or other notations, under the letter “C,” a veiled reference to Garcia using only the first initial of his first name.

The honest services fraud conspiracy and honest services wire fraud charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison.

The Travel Act charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The bribery concerning governments receiving federal funds charges each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

All charges are punishable by a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of the pecuniary gain from the offense. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of ill-gotten gains obtained from the bribery scheme.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Good job by LE sussing this out. But everyone, and I mean everyone, knew Garcia was a self-serving totally corrupt rat. If the city of Newark wasn’t able to sniff that out before Law Enforcement told them, I absolutely guarantee you they have dozens more just as bad on the payroll. That city will NEVER turn around while it is unable to tell any OBVIOUS grifter from a serious public servant.

    • Stan’s lunch buddy

      Smart strategy by Bhallimmers Ramos isn’t attacking Ravi, but then you start a fight

      Ask Stan and Jake Stuiver about ” Those people”

      Discovery was really unfair to them…

      • Garcia also ran a subprime mortgage business out of City Hall when he was Health & Human Services Director in the Roberts-Ramos-Soares administration.

        He really does have a long and sordid history. And a lot of enablers and accomplices along the way.

        • Then there was the allegations of an intimate personal relationship made by his campaign manager that ended very badly and very publicly in the press.

        • That’s funny
          But not a criminal offense
          Nor was there ever an administration lead by all three you mention
          Oh some 20 years ago
          But that Stan lunch was less than 10

          • It was offensive on many levels and probably not especially funny to his wife and his children but it was apparently a very important relationship to George based on press accounts of the legal back and forth.

          • I’ve heard Stan once had lunch in Manhattan with Tony Soares, but that lunch was about 15 years ago, so I guess the statute of lunch limitations has expired on that meal.

          • Stan and Soares had to work together in 2007 after Mason, Stuiver and Lane pushed Dawn and didn’t want her to have a say in Vote Hoboken’s spending that she donated heavily towards…
            Oh the days when Mason/Jake/Sara were ripping gaping holes in Hoboken’s activist community…. Sad

        • How about Carmelo hosting Jake Stuivers baby blessing
          Those two were beyond bromance

          “Memo I can’t quit you”- your Jackie 💕💕💕💕

      • Stan is a very controversial figure but not because he accepted an invitation having lunch with Mister Carmelo once. As many recall, it was multiple people and Mister Carmelo recorded the luncheon of which the recordings later were confiscated and releaseed by court order.

        No, the controversey surrounds the 2017 Ravi Terror Flier Hate Crime against Hoboken people and parties connected to the Bhalla campaign. Maybe law enforcement will finish this job as a similar “inside job” uncovered in an Edison, NJ election coincidentally also in 2017.

        https://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/investigation-into-nj-townships-racist-election-flyer-points-to-inside-job/2709870/

        The Shadow knows.

        • Libel is a method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person’s reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in his/her business or profession.

          Saying horses can’t read will not hold up in court.

          • No worries. The only one being libeled is Roman Brice since the nutty posts attributed to him are “injurious to [his] reputation, [and] exposes [him] to public hatred, contempt or ridicule.”

            Unless of course these posts are actually written by Roman Brice in which case the attribution to him is true and not defamatory and he is deserving of the ridicule that inevitably results from the nuttiness evident in the semi-coherent ramblings.

          • The unprosecuted 2017 Hoboken criminal flier case appears to make the Ravi campaign operatives wildly lash out when mentioned. Is someone talking to law enforcement? Could the Hudson Reporter, a former HR employee, Hobokenhorse, or others in the know lead to someone dropping dimes? Why would any Ravi operatives or even Stan Grossbard who was active in the 2017 Bhalla campaign be potentially displeased with law enforcement obtaining new evidence? Shouldn’t they be happy? Would cross-dressing constitute a sufficient insanity defense?

          • I’d like to know what the Bhalla campaign knew and when they knew it. What did Stan Grossbard know and the campaign manager Vijay? When DeFusco asked Ravi Bhalla to work together to get to the bottom of the terror flier, Ravi refused. Mike DeFusco tried and his offer was spurned. Hoboken deserves a real investigation like Edison.

          • Exactly, Incels on Park! When did Bhalla stop beating his wife? When did Stan and Vijay stop beating their wives? Why do they refuse to say if they don’t have something to hide?

            Well, I’ve done it again! I’ve successfully taken another thread and changed the subject to the terror flier. Since I don’t have a job, this is my job! You’re welcome!

            Don’t forget to watch my pro January 6th videos and send money to my paypal account to thank me!

            https://web.archive.org/web/20210117033148/https://newyorkcityguns.com/wartime-day-43-endgame/

          • Ravi knew. His PAC crew pulled the trigger. Who thinks they did it without his knowledge a few days before the election? Why would a massive move be done with Ravi knowing absolutely nothing? Aren’t they all happy peas in the same pod to this day?

  2. Comments below a happy Hoboken news story hijacked by the same attention-seeking nasty Troll. Really people, can’t you ignore the beast? Better late than never, Feds. Carmelo is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers– unless he pleads out first. The court of public opinion is another story.

      • dude, he’s NOT defending Carmelo. He literally said “better late than never, feds”. you’re so wound up with anger and resentment that you can’t even follow along, geez.

  3. Kudos to Mello for standing up for the HHA all these years. He’s been vigilant going all the way back to when Tony Soares backed a candidate for the board who was harboring a convicted sex offender on federal property. Tony ran around the spaghetti dinner telling everyone how mad he was at Mello for — gasp — asking questions about it, but Mello stood his ground and has continued to do so.

    • Whatever happened to that guy, Soares? I vaguely recall many years ago he used to make out like he was some sort of local political insider, pulling the strings behind the scenes, etc. Then just as quickly, he faded seemed to fade away, haven’t heard anything about him in years. Maybe he’s left Hoboken, who knows.

      • I’ve heard Soares still lives in town but got a job as a real estate agent and is making really great coin. The friendly relationships with developers that he built over the years have probably served him in good stead. Maybe that’s why he didn’t run for Mayor or at least council even though he definitely would have won. The financial sacrifice would have been too much and Tony has already given Hoboken more than anyone has a right to ask. Very much Hoboken’s loss given his unmatched expertise in both politics and policy. Hopefully he’s helping advise Cheryl Fallick’s ticket. Someone told me she’s his protege in the real estate biz and the City Council can definitely use more realtors making the case for affordable housing and against overdevelopment.

      • Poor Mello and Stuiver

        One came in no 12th BEHIND no names…
        Guess when you only talk about wanting a 3 bedroom condo at a good price and throw around you’re gonna be an attorney and you “ own the 5th vote”
        Mayors and others in good government get sick of you.
        And then there’s embarrassing fools who were Mason goons who write nasty hit pieces on Zimmer with a now indicated Tommy B.
        And how about Jake Stuivers close tight relationship with that guy?
        All smearing Zimmer
        But then Mason ranks and like the rat that he was shows up at Zimmer headquarters in his purple Mason shirt sucking up

      • He Came in 4th, unlike Mello who came in 12th LOL!!!
        And Jake who came, nobody would support him to get on a ballot, so he left!
        Even with that supposed support from the indicted fixer Tommy from Jersey City….
        Mello who loved to say ” now we have two lawyers on the council was rejected for Zimmer’s 3rd term plans and Bhalla’s slate after Zimmer went on to fight climate change and become an energy company executive.
        Sad little FAKE and his white boys who want to control the housing authority… The area is still a mess with Mello in charge.

    • By all accounts David has done an excellent job at the HHA. Replacing Garcia with an honest, apolitical professional was a vitally important first step to righting the ship.

      I’ve heard that before Garcia was arrested, a movement was afoot, opposed by David and other honest commissioners, to bring him back as ED. I hope that wasn’t true but if it is, it’s a sign that the bad old days could still come roaring back. David and some of the other Commissioners deserve our gratitude and support for helping to prevent that from happening.

    • Mello was so good that Bhalla and Zimmer dumped him from a 3rd run or Bhalla’s 1st- they wouldn’t take his calls or ask his advice. He went crying to everyone and then when he was told DeFusco chose Falco, Mello moaned and cried like a big loud fog horn… Kept his neighbors up
      So pathetic he was left with taking a seat on Romano’s ticket coming in like 11th place or worse…

      Bhalla is doing a great job. He had a great start when he started a new slate 4 years ago without the Southwest blowhard and lazy finger pointer.

    • Someone is drinking again… ? wonder if he called Soares and called him the C word like the leader of Slate Romano loved to yell on the phone at people…

    • You both sound crazy
      Stop smoking weed dude, nobody know who or what you’re talking about…
      Spaghetti dinner?
      Sex offenders ?
      Defending commissioners who ran and now still run the worst housing authority in NJ – how can anyone be doing that but dumb white men?

  4. How did Carmelo’s godmother ever get into the HHA board? Is it true there was a deal with the Russos for Tony Soares to get health benefits on the Sewerage Authority?

    I hear she used to leave voicemails for other commissioners expressing hatred of Jews. How could Tony condone such bigotry? Were the free bennies really that good?

  5. The previous petty personal insider attack posts on this thread only makes those who were not involved in these decade old squabbles thankful that those posters are now irrelevant to Hoboken.

Comments are closed.