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Accused Man in NJ Probe Dies; Cause Not Yet Known

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Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:29pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – One of 44 people arrested last week in a sweeping federal probe of political corruption and money laundering in New Jersey has been found dead in suspicious circumstances, authorities said.

Jack Shaw, 61, a longtime Democratic political consultant, was discovered dead at his Jersey City home on Tuesday afternoon in circumstances Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio called “suspicious,” local media reported.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday. The prosecutor told The New York Times that the death did not appear to be murder but could be natural, accidental or a suicide.

Shaw was accused of accepting a $10,000 cash bribe from a government informant posing as a real estate developer hoping to win project approval and public contracts, according to documents in the case.

He had been working for developers in northern New Jersey, the Times said. Shaw previously worked for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio and helped with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s race for the U.S. Senate in 2000.

Prosecutors said Shaw asked the informant to donate the cash to the re-election campaign of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who was not charged.

Shaw also introduced the informant to other officials who were charged in the massive investigation of corruption, human organ sales and money laundering involving several mayors and rabbis, they said.

NETWORK OF CORRUPTION

The 10-year investigation exposed influence-peddling and bribe-taking among a network of public officials. A separate multimillion dollar money-laundering ring funneled funds through charities operated by local rabbis, said the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, New Jersey.

Among those arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus and Ridgefield, state lawmakers, city council members, zoning officials, building inspectors and political candidates.

The mayor of Secaucus, Dennis Elwell, resigned on Tuesday, the first of the accused political officials to do so.

The Democratic governor has said all officials swept up in the probe should resign. One of his appointees, Community Affairs Commissioner and former Bayonne mayor Joe Doria, last week tendered his resignation after his home was searched.

Charles Richman is serving as acting commissioner, an agency spokesman said by e-mail.

The agency helps cities and towns with their finances, including bond sales, and the spokesman said he was not aware of any delays in their bringing debt to market.

The money-laundering network by rabbis operated between Brooklyn and Deal, New Jersey, and Israel, authorities said. They laundered some $3 million for the undercover witness between June 2007 and July 2009, authorities said.

The probe also exposed a Brooklyn man accused of conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant.

(Additional reporting by Joan Gralla)
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by David Storey)

ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

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