Whether innocent or guilty, the best course of action for any indicted person is to save their arguments for the Judge and jury. A simple straight forward statement saying, "In America there is a presumption of innocence and I look forward to contesting those charges at trial" is usually the wisest course of action for any Defendant awaiting a criminal trial.
Louis Manzo held a press conference and angrily attacked former US Attorney, now New Jersey Governor, Chistopher Christie accusing him of orchestrating a massive federal probe into corruption and money laundering to help his political campaign to become Governor of New Jersey. A spokesman for Governor Christie called Manzo's accusations "deluded."
Massive federal sting operation
Last summer, Louis Manzo and his brother Ronald was arrested and charged with accepting $27,500 in illegal campaign contributions from undercover government informant Solomon Dwek, who posed as a crooked developer trying to gain building approvals for his projects.
In May 2006, real estate developer Solomon Dwek was arrested for bank fraud after he bounced a $25 million on PNC bank and tried to deposit another rubber $25 million check with the bank. Dwek agreed to cooperate with the FBI and wore a wire as a confidential government informant in its wide ranging investigation of political corruption in New Jersey and money laundering involving religious charities and New York and New Jersey.
In July 2009, 44 people including 3 New Jersey Mayors, about two dozen other politicians including members of their staffs, several government employees, and 5 Rabbis from the Brooklyn, New York and Deal, New Jersey Syrian Jewish Community were arrested as part of the two year federal massive sting operation.
In February 2010, former Jersey Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini was convicted of two felonies in the first trial of a Jersey public official as a result of the federal probe.
Other Defendants are awaiting trial, some Defendants have already pleaded guilty, and according to sources, other Defendants are quietly cooperating with the FBI in its expanding probe into corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Louis Manzo attacks FBI and federal prosecutors
According to an article in the Star-Ledger by Joe Ryan:
So there he was today, standing before a bank of microphones at a news conference he called in Jersey City to assail the federal authorities who charged him.
Manzo accused the FBI and federal prosecutors in Newark of orchestrating last summer’s sprawling bribery and money-laundering operation to catapult former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, a Republican, to the governor’s office. As proof, Manzo cited contributions from staffers at the U.S. Attorney’s office to Christie’s campaign. And he cited the dozen-plus former federal prosecutors who have since joined Christie’s administration.
"I think it’s obvious when you connect the dots that there was an attempt to use a government sting as an effort to help Christie’s election," Manzo said.
A spokesman for the governor said Manzo’s accusations were "deluded."
"He appears to be just another official in New Jersey charged with corruption who wants to divert attention from his own conduct," said Michael Drewniak, a former spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark who now works for Christie. "Maybe at his next press event, he could go into full detail about his conduct as described in the charges."
Christie’s successor, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, said Manzo "can rehash whatever allegations he wants. But this office stands behind the indictment, and the charges against him will be resolved in court."
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment.
"This is an assault on the Constitution," Manzo said.
Manzo is not the first defendant to accuse federal prosecutors of trying to aide Christie’s election. Former Democratic state Sen. Joseph Coniglio of Bergen County unsuccessfully argued during his corruption trial last year that he was the victim of a political prosecution. A federal judge barred former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini from using a similar tact at her trial in February.
Manzo is, however, the first defendant in recent memory to stage a news conference to trumpet his accusation. His lawyer, John David Lynch, did not attend the event. Reached by phone afterward, he said normally he would advise against such public statements. But Manzo, he said, felt generally aggrieved.
"He is an intelligent and responsible adult," Lynch said. "I am not a puppet master."
Perhaps John David Lynch, Manzo's attorney can advise his client that you rarely win a federal criminal corruption case on emotion and blabbing about being victimized by government prosecutors. The wisest way to win such a criminal case is by unemotionally and methodically attacking the evidence and raising "reasonable doubt" as to guilt with a jury.
Public displays of anger by Defendants only serve to energize prosecutors and criminal investigators to "cross every t and dot every i" and otherwise double-up in their efforts to successfully win their cases. Keeping a low profile usually draws less attention from the feds.
Louis Manzo's indictment cites several damaging conversations involving himself, his brother, and government informant Solomon Dwek caught on tape discussing alleged illegal payments in return for helping Dwek gain approval for his building projects. Apparently, Manzo feels "boxed in" and is unable to refute the overwhelming evidence cited in his indictment and feels his only course of action is to make angry attacks on the FBI and US Attorney's office.
Louis Manzo seems like another criminal Defendant who is "living on hope." Manzo should not treat his upcoming trial like a political campaign. At least politicians can walk away after losing a political campaign to fight another day, unlike losing a criminal trial and landing themselve's in the slammer.
Sam E. Antar
Related blog post:
First Jury Trial in Federal Corruption Probe Based on Informant Solomon Dwek Convicts Beldini: Are Some Defendants Living on Hope?
Previous media coverage of my comments on the ongoing an expanding federal investigation into political corruption and money laundering can be found here:
July 22, 2009: Jewish Week - UPDATED: Syrian Jewish Insider: “Not Surprised” by Arrest of Prominent Rabbis in Breaking FBI Investigation
July 24, 2009: New York Times - Brooklyn Blogs Buzzing With Talk About Rabbis by Paul Vitello
August 17, 2009: Atlantic City Press - Crazy Eddie's cousin stars in Republican hearing on corruption by Derek Harper
August 3, 2009: Bloomberg News - Money-Laundering Rabbi Case in Los Angeles Echoes N.J. Scandal by Linda Sandler and Voreacos
August 26, 2009: Jewish Daily Forward - ‘Crazy’ Eddie’s Cousin, a Former Fraudster, Speaks Out on Syrian ‘Subculture of Crime’ by Rebecca Dube
I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped Eddie Antar and other members of his family mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980's. I committed my crimes, simply because I could.
If it weren't for the efforts of the FBI, SEC, Postal Inspector's Office, US Attorney's Office, and class action plaintiff's lawyers who investigated, prosecuted, and sued me, I would still be the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie today.
After two years of stonewalling government investigations, class action litigations brought by our victims, and lying to my former attorneys, I hired criminal attorney Anthony Mautone and civil attorney Jonathan D. Warner. They correctly advised me to cooperate with the government and the victims of my crimes, rather than risk a trial.
As a result of Mautone's and Warner's wise advice, I was sentenced to only six months of house arrest, 1,200 hours of community service, and paid some nominal fines and disgorgement. In addition, in my settlement with the victims of my crimes, I avoided all civil liability due to my cooperation in helping them recover over $100 million dollars in losses.
Today, I teach the Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, and other federal, state, and local government agencies about white collar crime, completely free of charge. I hope it gets me into heaven, but I doubt that I will ever get there because my crimes are unforgivable.