Former D.C. mayoral candidate says was paid off by Mayor Vincent Gray

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A former candidate in last year’s Washington D.C. mayoral race is claiming that winner Vincent C. Gray paid him to disparage incumbent mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who was defeated in the November election.

Sulaimon Brown said that he had a deal last summer with the campaign staff of Gray to continually attack Fenty during the race, and in exchange, was paid cash and promised a city job if Gray won. Brown claims that he was paid by Lorraine Green, one of Gray’s closest friends and campaign chairwoman, and by Howard Brooks, a campaign consultant.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Gray claims he only agreed to get Brown an interview, but not as a reward for attacking Fenty.  At a press conference, Gray called the story “surprising, shocking and appalling” and asked the D.C. Office of the Attorney General to investigate the allegations.

“If somebody did that, then they ought to be subject to whatever justice is required,” Gray said of the allegations. “I would never condone anything like that, period, point blank.”

Brown backed up his allegations by releasing cell phone records between Brown, Gray and the two campaign workers dating back to last June. The records show dozens of calls and text messages that Brown says where conversations about the job commitment.

Brown claims that he received cash from Gray’s campaign between June 24 and Sept. 14, the date of the Democratic primary.

Brown was hired in January as a $110,000 per-year special assistant at the district’s Department of Health Care Finance to be the administrations eyes and ears there, according to his own account. He was fired two weeks ago after press accounts surfaced of a restraining order in 2007 involving allegations that he was stalking a 13-year old girl.

In related news, the department’s chief of staff, Talib Karim, resigned on Sunday saying that a protective order filed by his wife three years ago had become a distraction.

Information from The Washington Post

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California mayor indicted on bribery and extortion charges

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The former mayor of Upland, California, a community of 76,000 just east of downtown Los Angeles, was indicted on Wednesday by a Riverside County grand jury on bribery and extortion charges, alleging he demanded money from locals businesses seeking city approvals and permits.

John Pomierski, 56, who resigned from office last week, was accused of demanding $70,000 from a nightclub owner and $20,000 from a medical marijuana cooperative in 2007, in exchange for his help in getting permits and other services for the businesses.


Pomierski was charged in an 11-count indictment, which alleges he “would demand money from the owners of businesses located in the city of Upland in exchange for the performance of official acts in connection with Upland city government business and transactions.”

Also charged in the indictment was a business associate of the former mayor, Edward Hennes, who allegedly acted as an intermediary between Pomierski and businesses looking for favorable municipal treatment. Hennes, 54, is a member of the city’s building appeals board and owner of a local construction firm.

Two other men- Jason Crebs and Anthony Sanchez- acted as middlemen in the extortion operation, communicating demands to businesses and collecting payments. Crebs and Sanchez have reportedly reached plea agreements with prosecutors.

The court documents claim Hennes and others entered into consulting agreements and contracts with businesses to “disguise and conceal” the true nature of the illegal payments. Pomierski’s company, JP Construction Co., received at least $90,000 from Hennes’ company since 2000, the year Pomierski was elected mayor.

Aaron  Sandusky, the owner of the marijuana cooperative, cooperated with the FBI in its investigation of Pomierski and Hennes.

Sandusky said that one of Pomierski’s representatives demanded $20,000 to stop an effort by the city to shut down the cooperative. He said he paid $10,000 to Hennes.

“It’s hard enough to run a business, let along this kind of business,” Sandusky said. “When this happens, where do I go? The police? The FBI? I’m in the medical marijuana business. I’m an easy target.”

If convicted, Pomierski faces a maximum of 145 years behind bars and Hennes faces 50 years.

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North Miami mayor admits to handing out official police-like badges to “city volunteers”

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At a city council meeting Tuesday evening, North Miami Andre Pierre apologized to the audience for ordering 43 police-like badges, inscribed “Mayor’s Staff”, which cost taxpayers $4,151.

Last week, The Miami Herald first reported the story, in which Pierre claimed that he couldn’t remember how many he ordered, and how many he handed out. The trouble with the badges, is that the mayor’s staff consists of three person, all of whom he shares with city council members.

After the council meeting, Pierre said that he provided a badge to each of the staff members, and an undisclosed number to “city volunteers,” although he refused to mention any names. He also refused to answer questions why he ordered them in the first place.

Pierre bypassed the city manager when purchasing the badges, instead asking Police Chief, Stephen Johnson, to order them. The badges are similar to a law enforcement shield and feature the Florida state seal.

At the council meeting, Pierre repeated an earlier contention that the request should have not been mistaken as an order to purchase the badges. “I never gave him a command,” said Pierre.

Critics blasted Pierre for spending taxpayer monies on the badges, which might easily be mistaken for law enforcement shields. They say the badges could be used to obtain favors or intimidate citizens.

City Manager Russell Benford was not aware of the badges until contacted by the media last week. He said he’s asked Pierre to retrieve the badges.

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Florida mayor purchases official badges with no decent explanation

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The same mayor who in the last year forgot who gave him a $100,000 sports sedan to drive, and who forgot to turn over relief monies to Haitian earthquake victims, now says he can’t remember why he ordered dozens of expensive official looking police-style badges.

North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre claims he purchased the badges for his staff. One of the badges was inscribed “City Clerk” while another 43 badges have the words “Mayor’s Staff” and feature the Florida state seal.

The issue critics say, is that the mayor shares a staff of only three people, with city council. Police chief Stephen Johnson said that he ordered the badges at the mayor’s request.

Invoices show that 20 badges and cases were delivered to police headquarters on Aug. 16, and another 24 on Nov. 5. According to the invoices, the total cost amounted to $4,151.

When reached for a comment by the Miami Herald, Pierre said, “My staff uses them as credentials at official events. I don’t know if the city-issued IDs are really official credentials.”

Pierre said he doesn’t remember how many he handed out, but he says that the remaining ones are in a box in his office. He also claims that he only asked for and received 20 badges.

Johnson said that it’s possible that the second set of badges is somewhere at police headquarters, and that he may possibly have ordered them by mistake. “I don’t know where they are. I don’t know why they need badges. I’m the new chief. If someone asks me to order badges, I order badges,” he said.

Pierre claims that even though he talked to Johnson about getting official badges, he didn’t actually order him to purchase them. “I had a conversation with the chief. It wasn’t an order I gave to the chief,” Pierre said. “The chief didn’t have to order them if he didn’t want to.”

Meanwhile the city manager, Russell Benford has scheduled a meeting with Johnson to determine why the badges were ordered in the first place, and where they are.

Upon learning of the badges, city council members expressed concern that so many badges that look just like police badges, were ordered for no good reason.

`There’s no reason for us to have it,” said Councilman Scott Galvin who stopped accepting his city-issued badge in 2001. “This opens up all sorts of Pandora’s boxes for abuse and misuse.”

Miami Herald

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Former NJ city councilman sentenced to 18 months in prison

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Former Hoboken councilman and commissioner on the North Hudson Utilities Authority, Michael Schaffer, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison for funneling illegal cash contributions into the election campaign of former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano.

Former Hoboken councilman, Michael Schaffer, took $25,000 in cash from an FBI undercover informant, as an advance against future favorable votes from the city's mayor.

Schaffer was arrested in July 2009 as part of a three year corruption investigation that targeted local public officials and the religious community. He was charged with taking $25,000 in illegal campaign contributions from a crooked developer-turned-FBI informant, Solomon Dwek.

Schaffer was caught on surveillance tapes taking cash from Dwek in exchange for future votes and zoning approvals, on real estate development projects that Dwek claimed to be planning. Much of the cash was handed over in $5,000 stacks of $100 bills, in FedEx mailing envelopes.

Schaffer took $15,000 from Dwek when Cammarano was running for mayor, and another $10,000 after Cammarano was elected. Cammarano was arrested less than 30 days after taking office and later pleaded guilty to receiving the illicit contributions. He is now serving a 24-month sentence in a federal prison.

The developer, Solomon Dwek, agreed to be an FBI undercover witness after he was taken into custody for a $50 million bank fraud involving PNC Bank. Dwek helped federal authorities conduct a wide-ranging public corruption and money laundering probe that ultimately resulted in charges against 44 politicians and rabbis in New Jersey and New York.

more coverage at The Jersey Journal

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Officials charged with corruption in Bell, California want taxpayers to cover their defense costs

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Three elected officials in the scandal-ridden city of Bell, California have petitioned the court for the cash-strapped city to cover their legal expenses, according to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo and Councilman George Cole are asking that the city, which they and others are accused of looting, cover their defense costs for a lawsuit filed by the California attorney general’s office.

Jacobo and Cole are also seeking to have the city pay for their defense costs on separate criminal charges.

Lawyers representing the city officials said their clients did nothing wrong and therefore, the city should pay their defense costs.  After years of corruption in city hall in the blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles, the city is on the verge of bankruptcy.

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Ex-Detroit mayor and cronies arraigned on 38 counts of corruption

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Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, and three other men were arraigned on Monday in U.S. District Court, on federal racketeering and corruption charges.

Disgraced ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kirkpatrick has his most difficult legal struggle ahead of him, perhaps in 2012.

Kilpatrick is currently serving time in federal prison in Milan, Mich. on a parole violation charge. Instead of the typical prison uniform, Kilpatrick appeared in a coat and tie, although he appeared to have lost some weight and sported a bushy beard.

Kilpatrick appeared to be in good spirits, joking around with his fellow co-defendants and blowing air kisses to his sister in the courtroom audience. All five men entered non-guilty pleas to U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Randon. All but Kilpatrick were released on $10,000 bail.

Observers say the current charges are the most serious brought to date against Kilpatrick, 40, who was considered a rising star in Michigan politics until forced to resign in 2008, after state convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice.

In mid-December, a 17-member federal grand jury indicted Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, former mayoral aide Derrick A Miller, Kilpatrick close friend and contractor Bobby Ferguson and former Detroit water chief Victor Mercado.

The 89-page indictment described a culture in which Kilpatrick orchestrated million dollar schemes to steer city business to contractors who would pay kickbacks to Kilpatrick and his group. The U.S. Attorney’s Detroit office filed the 38-count indictment, charging the group with racketeering conspiracy and accusing them with extortion, bribery and fraud. Tens of millions of dollars of municipal contracts were steered to Ferguson using coercion exerted by Kilpatrick’s office.

The government brought charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act which makes it easier to sue interconnected entities in complex cases. A RICO case, often used in instances of organized crime, also provides harsher sentencing provisions and recovery of triple damages.

Ferguson is a close friend of Kwame Kilpatrick and a hauling and construction contractor. He was previously indicted in September on separate charges of bid-rigging a $12 million contract connected to a HUD affordable housing project in the Detroit area.

Bernard Kilpatrick was involved in the corruption schemes through a consulting firm, Maestro Associates LLC, which he started around the time his son was elected mayor. He was part of the team including Kwame Kilpatrick, Derrick Miller and Victor Mercado that regularly extorted monies from legitimate contractors involved in city sewer and water main work, often steering a portion of the contract to pal Bobby Ferguson. In some cases, Ferguson received big fees for doing no work at all.

The government alleges that Ferguson kicked back over $420,000 to Kilpatrick and his father Bernard, and said Bernard Kilpatrick deposited more than $600,000 in cash into his personal bank accounts while his son served as the mayor of Detroit from 2002 through 2008.

Most of the contracts were valued in the tens of millions of dollars, although the men tried to extort a company into giving Ferguson a large piece of a $140 million contract for a new pumping station. The Kilpatrick group, called Kilpatrick Enterprises by prosecutors,  worked together in instances of rig-bidding, so that Ferguson would be guaranteed contract wins by manipulating the bidding process.

Kilpatrick resigned from office in 2008 after being charged with 10 felonies, including perjury, misconduct in office and obstruction of justice. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges and served 99 days in jail, but was sent back for violating the terms of his parole.  He is currently serving time in federal prison in Milan, Michigan.

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