Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell found guilty in FBI sting
After a day of deliberations, a federal jury reached a decision Wednesday afternoon in the bribery and extortion trial of former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell.
The jury found Elwell guilty of the third charge - acceptance of a corrupt payment - and not guilty of the first two charges, conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion.
Sentencing will be Nov. 15, 2011. However, Elwell’s attorney said he plans to appeal.
Elwell was among dozens of religious and political leaders snared by the FBI in 2009 in a sting operation in which a developer (who himself was facing fraud charges) met with various politicians and offered campaign donations in exchange for future help with development projects.
In his trial, Elwell said that he did take $10,000 cash from his friend, political associate Ronald Manzo, that came originally from the developer. The developer, Solomon Dwek, had told both men that he wanted to build a hotel in Secaucus.
But Elwell said he saw it as a possible campaign donation rather than any sort of bribe, and that Manzo had asked him to hold onto the money for him.
Manzo pleaded guilty to accepting the money last month and testified against Elwell in the trial.
For more on this story, read this weekend's Secaucus Reporter at hudsonreporter.com.
Crime-busting bill approved
State Sen. Nicholas Sacco’s bill to alter DNA testing requirements was approved by the Assembly on a 66 to 3 vote on Wednesday, June 29.
The bill would require individuals charged with committing certain violent crimes to submit a DNA sample which would then be entered into a database. The DNA is then compared to previous samples collected at unsolved crime scenes.
Under the current law, only convicted individuals must submit DNA samples.
“DNA sampling has the crime-fighting potential to be the 21st Century’s answer to fingerprinting,” said Sacco. “This technology is a tried and true method of either establishing a person’s innocence or cracking a previously unsolved case. By expanding the collection of DNA samples, we’re giving law enforcement an edge in the war on crime.”
Palisades Medical Center to host casino night
Palisades Medical Center’s fifth annual casino night will be held on Thursday, Aug. 25 at The Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen.
The event will kick off at 6 p.m. with an hour dinner, followed by gambling from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. A raffle will take place afterwards.
Admission is $100 per person, which includes a buffet dinner with beer, wine, and soda, as well as $150 in casino chips. Table games will include Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Craps, Roulette, and more. Additional chips may be purchased throughout the evening, and guests will be able to redeem chips at the end of the event for raffle tickets.
Casino night is planned and organized by the Palisades Medical Center’s Auxiliary, a group of volunteers that works throughout the year to support the Palisades Medical Center Foundation. For tickets or information, call Denise Whitley at (201) 854-5011 or visit www.palisadesmedicalfoundation.org.
North Bergen to conduct dog census
North Bergen has spent about $9,360 in order to comply with a state law that calls for townships to conduct a dog census every two years. The town is within a small percentage of municipalities that actually conducts the census, since there is no penalty for failing to do so.
"Conducting the dog census offers several community benefits to North Bergen,” said town spokesman Philip Swibinski. “It increases the amount of licensed pets in the township, and license fees help pay for animal control services. Also, lost animals that are licensed and registered are much easier to locate. Finally, it also gives us a chance to inform pet owners of ordinances regarding animals, such as leash laws and cleaning up waste."
Woodcliff Community Church Opens Thrift Store
The Woodcliff Community Church at 7605 Palisade Ave. in North Bergen, announced the grand re-opening of the Thrift Store on Saturday, July 9.
The store will sell books, linens, and clothing for men, women, children, toddlers, and infants. All proceeds will go toward helping the church with its various ministries, such as the food pantry. It will be open the second and fourth Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Donations are accepted by appointment. Call (201) 869-4555 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Saturday.