Manzo sat through lengthy and detailed questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kanefsky in regard to his dealings
with Solomon Dwek, the FBI informant who acted as a real estate developer seeking favors from politicians. Dwek brought down many politicians in a 2009 FBI sting.
Manzo was also questioned about dealings with Edward Cheatam, a former Jersey City housing commissioner who has also pleaded guilty in the sting.
Manzo had previously plead guilty to receiving cash payments from Dwek including a $5,000 payment for facilitating a $10,000 cash payment to Mayor Elwell and $27,500 in payments connected to his brother Louis Manzo.
Manzo testified that he knew Solomon Dwek as "David Eisenbach" (the name Dwek used in the sting), whom he met through Edward Cheatam in February 2009. Manzo described initially meeting with Dwek to help him get assistance in Jersey City where he wanted to build a property. He also stated that he knew Dwek wanted to give his brother, Louis Manzo, formal assemblyman and former Jersey City mayoral candidate, a campaign contribution. Manzo testified that he kept all cash given to him that was meant for his brother because he wanted to protect him. He described Dwek as generous and very aggressive in that he wanted any project of his pushed forward and in that he wanted his name kept off of everything and no records of contributions.
In regard to the language Dwek used during the meetings, Manzo said, "I told him he should watch how he is talking because it is inappropriate for public officials."
Video was shown of a meeting between Manzo and Dwek that took place at the Malibu Diner in Hoboken.
In it, Dwek tells Manzo, "Just make sure I have him in my corner...I just want him to expedite my stuff," speaking of Elwell.
Manzo said he didn't know how Elwell would react, that he thought he would be negative towards accepting money and that he felt uncomfortable putting Elwell in harm's way.
Manzo admitted to arranging a meeting between Elwell and Solomon Dwek at the La Reggia Restaurant in Secaucus to discuss Dwek's interest in a Secaucus property. Manzo had had a 12-year friendship with Elwell, had given him campaign contributions, and provided the township with employee insurance via his insurance company.
Black and white video was shown of the conversation that took place between Elwell, Dwek, and Manzo. In the video there is a reference to the need for zone changes from residential to commercial in the area of interest. Dwek stated that he wanted to"smooth out the speed bumps."
Defense: Elwell just wanted to give him information
In the trial's opening statements, the defense stated that Elwell had one purpose in meeting with Dwek and that was to give him general information about developing property in Secaucus. The defense stated that Elwell never accepted a corrupt payment, never promised Dwek any action in exchange for money, and that there is "no question" that the money offered to Elwell was a campaign contribution.
The trial will continue this week. Watch this weekend's Hudson Reporter newpapers, as well as hudsonreporter.com, for developments.