The mayor of Trenton, N.J. and his brother face corruption charges in connection with a 2010 parking garage development scheme in which they were allegedly offered an $119,000 bribe by an FBI agent operating undercover.
Opening arguments began Jan. 6 for Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, 48, and hisbrother Ralphiel Mack, both accused of bribery and extortion.
“This is a case about corruption,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Skahill said. “This is a case about how Tony Mack, the mayor of Trenton, took bribes.”
The brothers pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, denying they had any involvement in a plot to persuade contractors to develop a garage on city-owned property, a deal which would have brought financial benefits to both.
According to officials, they occasionally held secret meetings and used a secret or coded language. When speaking, Mayor Mack was referred to as “the little guy” or “Napoleon,” while his brother went by the code name “Uncle Remus.”
The mayor’s attorney told the Times of Trenton that the government was waiting to catch him with money in his hand, but it never happened.
“There is no credible evidence that Tony Mack took any money or knew about the corrupt nature of the project,” Davis told the newspaper. “Show me the money, show us the money.”
Ralphiel Mack’s attorney, Robert Haney, said the extortion charge against his client was just a fiction and that his client saw the deal as what it appeared to be on the surface—a legitimate development.
Charles Hall, a former city official and a close acquaintance of the mayor, and steak house owner Joseph Giorgianni each pleaded guilty last year to two counts of extortion. According to court documents, the two are among 40 potential witnesses to testify against the Mack brothers.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has called for Mack to resign. However, Davis said his client has pleaded not guilty and therefore will not step down as mayor. Mack has been in office since 2010 and earns a salary of $126,000.
In all, the Mack brothers face one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of attempting the obstruction of justice by extortion, one count of accepting bribes and three counts of fraud. They could face a prison sentence of 110 years if convicted on all charges.
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