New Jersey tends to get a bad rap. I blame this on several factors: The Sopranos, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, the horrible scenery around Newark airport and the ugliness of the Turnpike in general, and guidos/guidettes/fist pumping. But the arrest of 44 New Jersey officials (and rabbi's!) today on charges of corruption is really not helping:
The case apparently began with bank fraud charges against a member of an insular Syrian Jewish enclave centered in the seaside town of Deal, N.J. Eventually, stemming from that arrest, a federal informant posed as a crooked real estate developer offering cash bribes to obtain government approvals — and the case mushroomed into a political scandal that could rival any of the most explosive and sleazy episodes in New Jersey’s recent past.It was replete with tales of the illegal sales of body parts; of furtive negotiations in diners, parking lots, and boiler rooms; of nervous jokes about “patting down” a man who turned out to be an informant; and, again and again, of the passing of cash — once in a box of Apple Jacks cereal stuffed with $97,000, according to prosecutors. F.B.I. agents anticipated seizing so much money that they planned to go to the offices of a federal credit union in Lower Manhattan to use its counting machines, one law enforcement official said.
Money in Apple Jacks boxes? One guy is accused of getting vulnerable people to sell them their kidneys and then turning around and making a profit off of the body parts!
"This is so massive,” said Joseph Marbach, a political scientist at Seton Hall, who called it the biggest sting operation he could remember in the state. “It’s going to just reinforce the stereotype of New Jersey politics and corruption. While we thought we were cleaning up New Jersey, it just shows how much more needs to be done.”
Well, maybe this a good thing. In the words of Cady Heron, you need to suck the venom out before you can get better. The story will continue to develop. Now, what to do about those guidos?