HOBOKEN – Mayor Dawn Zimmer not so surprisingly issued a public condemnation Tuesday of Councilman Michael Russo’s actions that were videotaped by the FBI during a sting operation in 2007. The tape was released on the Star-Ledger website yesterday.
Russo is shown having lunch with an FBI informant who helped bring down more than 40 religious and political leaders. Besides ordering pea soup, Russo is also said to have agreed to a deal in which the informant would give him $5,000 toward a campaign, even though that is more than the legal limit per person. The informant also asked for preference in development deals.
Zimmer is supporting a council candidate who is facing Russo in the May 10 City Council election.
The council minority bloc that is allied with Zimmer also has condemned the actions, as has Russo’s ally, Council President Beth Mason (see prior news item at www.hudsonreporter.com).
Some sources were saying yesterday that a protest may occur at City Hall before Wednesday night’s council meeting.
Russo has said that while he met with an FBI informant, he did not agree to take any bribes.
Zimmer’s statement is as follows:
I am deeply disturbed by the content of the recently released FBI surveillance tapes of Councilman Russo’s meeting with FBI informant Solomon Dwek. I have watched portions of the tapes, and if reports of what was said throughout are true, then it is of significant concern to the residents of Hoboken and the integrity of our city.
Given the very serious nature of this matter, my administration has arranged for the tapes to be transcribed on an expedited basis. The videos, together with transcribed text of the tapes, will ensure a full and fair understanding of the matters that were discussed by the councilman with the informant.
As mayor, it is my obligation to address possible wrongdoing and unethical actions that may cause the public to lose trust in the institution that is meant to serve the citizens of Hoboken. Given the possible content of the tapes, which at times is difficult to hear, I believe it is my obligation to ensure a clear understanding of the facts. The transcribed tapes will be released in their entirety when they are completed, and I will be making further comment when I have had a chance to review the full transcriptions.