Guttenberg Mayor: Extortion Conviction
Hoboken411 reader Chris thought this story earlier in the week about the Mayor of neighboring Guttenberg might be of interest to Hoboken residents.
I guess it makes you wonder how many circumstances such as this go undetected in other municipalities, including our own.
In a not-so-related note, NYC Mayor Bloomberg cut 25,000 civil parking permits in the city! Are there any hints Hoboken can take from this decision?
Guttenberg mayor, wife convicted of extortion
Earlier this week, jurors convicted Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna and his wife of conspiring to commit extortion and falsifying tax returns. However, the couple was found not guilty on two mail fraud counts.
Delle Donna, 50, and his wife, Anna, 58, a former planning board member, were accused of pocketing thousands of dollars in cash, gifts and campaign contributions from a bar owner linked to a human trafficking ring. They are also charged with two counts of filing false tax returns for failing to report rental income.
During the five-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the Delle Donnas received a steady stream of cash and gifts totaling at least $40,000 between 2001 and 2005 from Luisa Medrano of Cliffside Park.
In exchange, they allegedly helped Medrano by fixing tickets, issuing building permits and asking an official “to go easy” on her bar when it faced a lengthy and costly liquor license suspension.
The government’s case was built on the testimony of three key witnesses – Medrano, Robert “Yogi” Rogers Sr., 68, of North Bergen, and Javier Inclan, a onetime close friend and ally of the Delle Donnas now serving as a deputy chief of staff to Governor Corzine.
During his own testimony earlier this month, the mayor acknowledged “mistakes” were made when his wife understated their rental income by $26,000. But he denied any wrongdoing and accused government witnesses of lying.
Federal prosecutors contended that the Delle Donnas violated their positions of trust by engaging in a pattern of “corruption, concealment and fraud.”
Read the rest of the report after the jump…
(Guttenberg Mayor Delle Donna, continued…)
Inclan testified that he handed two sealed envelopes to the mayor on consecutive days, moments after they were delivered to him by Rogers, a code enforcement official who told the jury he picked up $5,000 in cash from Medrano’s bar and brought it to Inclan.
No cash was ever disclosed in campaign reports filed with the state, nor were any of the gifts from Medrano ever listed in the mayor’s financial disclosure forms, Constable said.
Among the gifts from Medrano were a sapphire necklace and $2,000 cash for cosmetic surgery for Anna, $2,300 for a dog for their daughter, $500 Macy’s gift cards at Christmas and birthdays, and between $1,000 and $4,000 to gamble with on each of more than 10 visits to Atlantic City casinos.
Anna Delle Donna’s attorney, Brian Neary, had focused on Medrano, describing her as a master seductress who even duped the government with her story in a bid to avoid a lengthy prison term.
Medrano was arrested in 2005 on human trafficking charges and later pleaded guilty of harboring illegal immigrants — young Honduran women who were housed in her apartments and put to work in her bars, selling beer and dancing with patrons. She is awaiting sentencing.
The couple initially had reason for optimism after jurors in Newark told U.S. District Judge Harold Ackerman earlier that they had reached a partial verdict on three of the five counts while deadlocking on the others. Ackerman directed them to resume deliberations after giving them instruction in an attempt to break the impasse on the remaining counts.
“I realize you’re having some difficulties in reaching a unanimous agreement but that is not unusual,” the judge told them. He urged them to remain open-minded as they continued deliberating and said he wasn’t looking “to rush or pressure” into agreement.
“Take as much time as you need,” the judge said. “There is no hurry.”
But they returned quickly.