Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, one of the 44 arrested in Thursday's bust by federal authorities of political and religious leaders in New Jersey and New York, announced at Monday's City Council caucus that he will not resign his council seat.
"The events of this past Thursday were as shocking to me as they were to everyone else. I am not guilty of the allegations," Vega said in a statement. "In our system of justice we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I do not intend to resign as Council President, nor as Councilman."
Vega, 59, reelected to a fourth term in the May municipal election, is accused of allegedly accepting $30,000 from the federal government's "cooperating witness" Solomon Dwek to be funneled into Vega's campaign fund, and for payment after the election allegedly in exchange for Vega helping Dwek get approvals for a purported project on Garfield Avenue.
Reacting to Vega's statement was Dan Levin, former mayoral candidate and Downtown resident, who sat in on the caucus meeting.
"Obviously, it is disappointing that Council President Vega has chosen not to resign his seat," Levin said. "I don't agree with him that his arrest will not have an impact on his duties on the City Council."
Also at the City Council caucus, City Councilman Steven Fulop spoke about the two resolutions he has on the City Council's agenda: a resolution asking the rest of the City Council to support a formal request for the resignation of Councilman Mariano Vega and a resolution formally requesting that Mayor Healy amend his executive order regarding the closed-door abatement negotiation committee to which Healy appointed Mariano Vega as chairperson.
Vega at Monday's caucus agreed to step down as chairperson of the tax abatement committee.
Those two resolutions will be voted on at Wednesday's council meeting, which will take place at 10 a.m. in City Hall, 280 Grove St. in Jersey City.
For more of our continuing up-to-the-minute coverage of the scandal, see www.hudsonreporter.com. - Ricardo Kaulessar