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Huge N.J. corruption case trial set to open

Associated Press / January 25, 2010

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NEWARK - The first trial in New Jersey’s largest-ever corruption investigation is set to begin in a federal courthouse in Newark this week.

The public finally will get to see Solomon Dwek in action: a government cooperator who secretly recorded hours of meetings at restaurants, diners, and parking lots over two years, showing religious leaders, politicians, and municipal employees in various states of alleged wrongdoing.

It has been six months since the mammoth corruption inquiry resulted in 44 arrests.

The dramatic July 23 takedown included early-morning raids from synagogues to city halls and allegations of bribes distributed in cash-stuffed cereal boxes.

Prosecutors say the money-laundering operations were so large they were referred to as laundromats.

It also produced one of the more memorable perp walks in New Jersey’s history: Elderly rabbis in long black coats, sweat-suited municipal employees, and assorted bleary-eyed elected officials paraded in handcuffs off a fleet of buses for processing at FBI headquarters.

Among the defendants: Three mayors, two state assemblymen, and other public officials charged with corruption, prominent rabbis from Brooklyn and Deal, N.J. charged with money laundering, and in one case, a man charged with brokering the sale of a human kidney.

Ten have pleaded guilty, and the rest are awaiting trial.

But the man everyone wants to hear is Dwek, the cooperating witness and son of a prominent rabbi that the US government is hanging almost its entire case on.