HOBOKEN – The man running against Councilman Michael Russo in Hoboken's 3rd Ward election issued a press release over the weekend pointing out that a new book about the 2009 FBI political corruption sting in New Jersey details a 2009 meeting between informant Solomon Dwek --- who offered bribes to politicians running for office -- and Michael Russo in a local restaurant.
Candidate Greg Lincoln called on Russo to explain the meeting.
The Jersey Sting, released earlier this month, states that Russo met with Dwek in a Jersey City establishment some time before the corruption arrests, and Dwek offered Russo a $5,000 donation for his campaign, to be given to him through an intermediary. The book also claims that Dwek said he'd give Russo more after the election.
The book then states:
“Russo agreed and then the foursome broke up. After that, however, Russo would not take calls from Dwek’s middlemen.”
The book quotes speculation that Russo was advised by an attorney to stay away from Dwek. It also says the FBI believes that former Mayor Anthony Russo, who went to jail for accepting a bribe, may have advised him not to do it.
The book does not say whether the donation was meant to be cash, or whether it was expressed that it would be in return for favors.
Russo said on Monday morning that the book only describes some of the discussions, and that it is a third-party account of the meeting.
“My meeting with Mr. Dwek was no secret; it’s been reported elsewhere,” Russo said. “What’s not excerpted in the book is that I made it very clear to Mr. Dwek that I would not accept cash contributions, and there was no quid pro quo. No bribe was discussed.”
Russo added, “He said he wants to be helpful and donate $5,000 to my campaign. I made it clear to Mr. Dwek, who was using an alias, that I don’t accept cash campaign contributions.”
A $5,000 check still would be problematic, as the legal maximum limit for an individual is $2,600 under state election laws.
“I told him what the legalities are,” Russo said. “The guy insisted on doing it his way and that’s why there was never another meeting.”
For the excerpt in question, see the attached photo. Click to make it bigger. -- Ray Smith