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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Two Dominoes Fall in the Soprano State

Two Jersey City officials pled guilty to federal criminal charges of attempted extortion in New Jersey federal district court in Newark, NJ this afternoon. 

Guy Catrillo and Mayer Khalil are the two officials.  According to prosecutors and the pleas, Catrillo and Khalil agreed to take $15,000 and $72,500 in bribes, respectively, from an undercover informant believed to be admitted-felon-and-cooperating-witness Solomon Dwek.   The difference in dollar amounts will account for the different ranges of projected jail time, with reports quoting prosecutors as saying Catrillo faces about two years while Khalil could face up to 87 months.  (There are sentencing guidelines, which are advisory, and that's an entirely different matter.) 

In keeping with this blog's policy of informing and educating you, see the Khalil criminal information and Catrillo criminal information for yourselves.

The Khalil information specifically names two other Jersey City officials -- Mariano Vega and Edward Cheatam, both of whom were arrested in the big Bid Rig arrests in July -- and Cheatam was indicted last month. 

Now...a related observation made earlier on this blog...Court filings pertaining to several of the arrested individuals seem to indicate (see next sentence) that these individuals are (through their counsel) in discussions about guilty pleas.  In fact, there are August 2009 filings (by the prosecution) regarding both Vega and Cheatam which petition the Court for an "extension of time" for the stated reason to allow for plea negotiations without violating the defendants' right to a speedy trial.   Note that these pleadings reflect either rushed, sloppy or intentionally misleading drafting by the prosecutors; someone subscribing to the latter explanation could view it as one way to exert pressure or impose embarrassment as a different form of pressure for the defendant to plead guilty.   In any event, those filings are public record, and both Vega and Cheatam were specifically named in today's criminal informations.   This may indicate that Vega and Cheatam are among the defendants who will plead guilty at some point...or it could indicate absolutely nothing.  (Another note:  nine days after the Vega extension was filed, Vega switched attorneys.)

In addition to the named other defendants, I also see a reference to unnamed "others" in the Khalil information.   Bet that many people who live or work in Jersey City will be reading it.  Who should be worried?

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