Russo served as mayor of Hoboken from 1993 to 2001, and was a special education teacher and councilman before that.
In 2005 he was found guilty of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from the city's former accounting firm, and sentenced to 30 months in prison. The official federal charges were for mail fraud in connection with the bribes he took. He was under federal investigation for 10 years.
Now he is being moved to a Newark halfway house to serve out the rest of his term.
Happy to have him home
"Myself and my family are ecstatic he's on his way home," the former mayor's son, Hoboken Councilman Michael Russo, said last week.
Russo said that his father's official release date has been set for September, though the family does not have much information about it.
"They keep you very much in the dark," Russo said. He added that his family did not find out his father would be moved to New Jersey until a few days before it occurred.
"It was the most details we've gotten in months," the councilman noted.
He said that now that he is closer to home, his family's main concern will be the former mayor's health.
Russo, 60, was diagnosed with cancer before he was sent to prison in 2005. A malignant tumor was removed from his brain in 2000, and he underwent surgery to remove part of his right lung after it spread.
In 2001 another brain tumor was detected and he underwent another procedure to remove the tumor. The cancer then went into remission in 2002, but later came back.
After Russo lost his mayoral bid to Mayor David Roberts in 2001, he ran for City Council and won. He later retired, saying it was because his cancer had re-emerged, but he was indicted for his crimes soon after.
Russo has spent the entirety of his prison term at the Federal Medical Center in Butler, N.C.
When asked whether the punishment was harsh considering his father's health, Michael Russo, 30, a rising star on the council himself, said it was appropriate.
"His punishment was harsh and it should have been harsh," he said. "He broke the law."
Anthony Russo entered into a plea agreement in September 2004, admitting to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and unlawful cash payments from the principals of the Hoboken-based accounting firm Lisa and Associates.
While there had been rumors of Russo's corruption in Hoboken for many years, it was only Lisa's testimony that could prove the bribes took place.
Lisa, a politically connected accountant, also admitted in federal court in August of 2003 to paying thousands of dollars in bribes to former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski from 1997 to 2001. Additionally, he pleaded guilty to one count of having made corrupt payments through an unnamed intermediary from 1997 to 2001 to secure the renewal of his firm's auditing contract with Hudson County.
In addition to the 30-month prison sentence, Anthony Russo was ordered to pay a fine of $30,000, as well as $332,220 in restitution, by U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano.
Russo apologized during the court proceedings back in 2005. "I must say that I apologize to any and all of the people that were affected by my abhorrent criminal behavior," he said in a brief statement.
Despite the apology, Michael Russo said he is still angry over what his father did.
"There is some anger still involved," Michael Russo admitted.
He added that the two speak about three times a week, and that they have discussed the corruption issue.
"He knows where we as a family stand as far as what he did," Russo said. "He was wrong and he paid for the crime he committed."
Nonetheless, the councilman for the 3rd Ward - the same ward that his father represented - looks forward to seeing him.
"My love for him will never change," he said. Comments on this piece can be sent to email@example.com