Jersey Mayhem: Proud State Tradition Caught On Tape

Because New Jersey’s reputation as a corruption mecca could use some burnishing, here is some videotape that could help. Meet former Jersey City deputy mayor Leona Beldini, one of 44 Garden Staters arrested in a July sting aimed at political graft and money laundering. (Also among the busted: five rabbis, three mayors and two state legislators.) Beldini, 74, is the first to stand trial, facing charges that she accepted $20,000 of illegal campaign donations in exchange for helping to secure building permits. The guy giving her money while wearing a tiny hidden camera (reportedly one disguised as a button on his collar!) is Solomon Dwek, a former real-estate developer who turned undercover informant after his 2006 arrest for bouncing two $25 million dollar checks related to a massive Ponzi scheme he was operating. The best part is when Beldini, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, leans in to explain, sotto voce, “What we’re trying to do is put money into different funds so we can, when we need it, funnel it back to the mayor-which everybody does.”