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Monday, October 4, 2010
Another Jersey Corruption Trial Starring Solomon Dwek
Finally, another trial in open court to reveal some facts in the huge, iconic "Bid Rig" megainvestigation of official corruption within New Jersey.
Today, the criminal trial of Ridgefield mayor Anthony Suarez begins in Newark federal court. Suarez is also a name partner of a small law firm in Fort Lee, NJ. We can expect to see the Government call its favorite witness, Solomon Dwek ("Call me David"). (The "David" reference is to Dwek's undercover alter ego, his nom-de-guerre, of David Esenbach.)
Crime, Politics and Policy has several opinions relating to this trial, the larger series of investigations, and the even larger issues at work here.
Before we begin, a necessary disclaimer. It is necessary to invoke this disclaimer to preempt what the Newark Star-Ledger's esteemed columnist Paul Mulshine has called the "moron perspective," that is, the notion that any disagreement with the methods used to accomplish a goal equates to material support for the opposite position, or opponent, of that goal. Some commentators impute the lowest of the low motives to anyone with whom they disagree, as a despicable effort to shame that opposition into silence under the threat of a serious character smear.
Therefore, this disclaimer is issued so that no reader can credibly assert that Crime, Politics and Policy is anti-crime, anti-corruption or anti-Christie, just because it raises serious questions about the philosophy, tactics and execution of certain government investigations and policies.
Now for the opinions.
First, it is disturbing that the federal government chose Solomon Dwek as its main witness. Dwek is not someone with "clean hands."
Solomon Dwek was caught virtually red-handed (and subsequently pled guilty to) committing megamillion-dollar bank fraud in 2006 and was thereafter enlisted to try to incriminate enough dirty politicians -- officeholders (elected or appointed), campaign managers and other public employees (some of whom wore all three hats) -- as about the only way to get the federal government to agree to petition the federal court sentencing him to credit him for his "cooperation" and reduce his ultimate prison sentence. In the process, Dwek was able to also implicate a number of rabbis in assorted alleged schemes including the selling of kidneys Dwek's uncharged crimes include his ripping off in real estate deals members of his own congregation in Deal, NJ (a nice little town on the Jersey Shore surrounded by an eruv) and even members of his own family, including his uncle. Dwek is reportedly estranged from his own family, and is a leper within the Orthodox Jewish community (in which ostracization means virtually literal abandonment). The body of evidence revealed about Dwek indicates he is an atavistic man who has lied to or hurt virtually everyone with whom he has come into contact.
Why the government couldn't get a better witness, perhaps even someone who was not a major, admitted felon and serial, compulsive liar and fraudster, raises questions about the government's mechanics and methods of law enforcement. Not even investigation can have an undercover agent inside the operation, like "Donnie Brasco," but there is still a major and legitimate question about the choice of undercover informant in this series of cases.
Secondly, the breadth of people approached and successfully implicated by Dwek indicates both the scope of the problem of the culture of corruption within the public sector and political worlds, and one which may also stretch well into the worlds of business, finance and law. The last two to three years have revealed that, all too often, the apparently successful have been skirting, flaunting or outright violating the rules with disdain...at least until they get caught.
Thirdly, and perhaps most disturbing, the accounts of people who were approached by Dwek and rebuffed his corrupt advances show that Dwek's "targets" included virtually anyone running for public office in a significant chunk of the State of New Jersey. Under Governor Chris Christie while he was U.S. Attorney (until he resigned in December 2008) and later under his chief deputy and subsequent interim U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, was any candidate for public office considered to be a prospective crook?
It will be interesting to see what details emerge from the Suarez trial.
Stay tuned for a future column on how the Solomon Dwek saga shows business owners and investors the importance of hiring a qualified lawyer to handle due diligence on a prospective business partner, lender or investor.
Eric Dixon is a New York small business lawyer who represents small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers in litigation, negotiations, corporate investigations, government investigations and business due diligence. He can be reached at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.