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FBI — Businessman Sentenced to Three Years of Probation for Conspiring to Pass $10,000 in Cash to Then-Mayor of Secaucus

May 2, 2012 NEWARK—Ronald Manzo was sentenced today to three years of probation for conspiring to provide a $10,000 cash payment to the then-mayor of Secaucus, New Jersey, as well as one year of probation—including five months of home confinement—for violating terms of his probation from a previous criminal conviction, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Manzo, 68, a businessman from Bayonne, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with conspiring with then-Mayor Dennis Elwell and others to obtain $10,000 in exchange for Elwell’s future official assistance on real estate deals. Judge Linares sentenced Manzo to three years of probation on that charge, as well as a year of probation with home confinement, including electronic monitoring, for violating his previous probation.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

During the spring of 2009, Manzo participated in several meetings with Solomon Dwek—a cooperating witness with the government who was posing as a residential real estate developer—and Edward Cheatam, who was an affirmative action officer for Hudson County and a commissioner of the Jersey City Housing Authority. Manzo was informed by Dwek that Dwek was interested in meeting public officials who could assist with his development interests in North Jersey, including Secaucus. Manzo was told Dwek would pay cash to Elwell for his assistance.

Manzo arranged and participated in a meeting between Elwell, Cheatam, and Dwek around May 28, 2009. Manzo and Elwell were informed by Dwek that Dwek would provide cash to Elwell in several installments—including at that time, after Elwell’s upcoming primary election in June and after the upcoming November election—in exchange for Elwell’s future official assistance in Dwek’s real estate development matters in Secaucus. Also during that meeting, Manzo accepted $10,000 in cash from Dwek, with the intention of providing that cash to Elwell. Manzo admitted that shortly after the meeting with Dwek he provided the $10,000 in cash to Elwell, knowing it was paid in return for Elwell’s future official assistance. Manzo admitted that he later confirmed with Dwek during a meeting at a diner that he had passed the $10,000 cash payment to Elwell by writing down on a napkin, “yes, no problem,” which Manzo then showed to Dwek. Manzo admitted receiving additional cash payments from Dwek during the course of the investigation, including a $5,000 payment for facilitating the $10,000 cash payment to Elwell and $27,500 in other payments.

In 2004, Manzo pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of securities fraud and perjury and was sentenced to three years’ probation. It was that probation that Manzo violated by committing the most recent offense.

In addition to the supervised release, Judge Linares fined Manzo $30,000 and ordered him to forfeit $42,500.