SECAUCUS AND BEYOND -- Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell was sentenced today in Federal Court to 30 months in prison according to news reports. He was convicted of bribery in July and faced between 33 and 41 months in federal prison. His lawyers had asked a federal judge Jose L. Linares to sentence him at the lower end of the range he faces.
On July 6, a federal jury acquitted Elwell of conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion, but convicted him on bribery, in connection with a government sting. Federal prosecutors claimed that Solomon Dwek, an FBI informant posing as a real estate developer, gave Elwell $10,000 cash, allegedly through Ronald Manzo, in order to get favoritism on development projects. Elwell has said he saw the money as a campaign contribution rather than a bribe.
A Vietnam veteran, Elwell said to a local newspaper, “When I was drafted into the US Army I was told I belonged to the US government and if need be I would give my life for the government…To be set up by the same government is the most discouraging thing that has ever happened to me in my life.” Elwell apologized to his family, the court, and the residents of Secaucus for the embarrassment caused by the case.
Charges against Ronald Manzo’s brother, the former Assemblyman and Jersey City mayoral candidate Lou Manzo, were dismissed earlier this year. Ronald Manzo awaits sentencing at the end of this month. His lawyers have said they will appeal the conviction. U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares denied an attempt by the former Secaucus mayor to have his bribery conviction overturned last year.