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Archive for May 20th, 2009

Joseph Vas (file photo)

Joseph Vas (file photo)

NEWARK – Assemblyman and former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas was indicted yesterday along with his longtime aide Melvin Ramos on federal corruption charges, officials announced.

Vas and Ramos surrendered to Special Agents with the FBI in Newark this morning, Acting United States Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr. announced.

The indictment, which was unsealed today, charges Vas and Ramos with, among other things, committing mail fraud in connection with a scheme to misuse Vas’s position as mayor to misappropriate state affordable housing funds in connection with Vas’s sale of a multi-unit apartment building to a contractor in 2006.

Vas, 54, and Ramos, 53, both of Perth Amboy, made their initial appearances in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark this morning. Vas secured his $200,000 bail through a bond on his Perth Amboy home. Ramos also secured his $100,000 bail through a bond on his residence.

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ELIZABETH—Federal and county officials arrested 12 people and seized guns and drugs last week in a sweep targeting street gang members. An alleged member of the Bloods street gang and three alleged Bloods associates were arrested who had addresses in Elizabeth.

Overall, three alleged members of the notorious street gang were caught in the raids, which began last Monday under the supervision of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

Three other alleged gang members – all from Elizabeth—remain at large, authorities said.
The suspects were charged in Superior Court in Union County with trafficking automatic weapons and drugs. Some of the alleged dealers sold cocaine and heroin within steps of elementary and high schools in Newark and Elizabeth, authorities said.

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COLONIA – A Colonia High School sophomore was killed in a single-car crash on Route 9 in Woodbridge last Thursday night.

Jennifer Metzger, 16, was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. at the accident scene, authorities said. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Explorer driven by Allen McGovern, 18, of Rahway, police said.

Another 16-year-old girl who was a passenger in the car was also seriously injured and was flown to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

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Double-Dipping Costs Climb

STATE—Extensive newspaper reporting on the ways in which the public employee pension systems have been manipulated and abused has not stopped the number of New Jersey government workers with more than one public job from increasing.

According to government payroll data, 8,255 workers had two or more jobs with the state, county, school districts, municipalities or other non-federal public agencies.

There are hundreds of elected officials who also occupy other paid government jobs. The median salary among double-dipping government workers was more than $61,000 and the total tax expenditure for the jobs was more than $538 million.

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UNION COUNTY—While many Americans cannot find employment and even public employees are losing their jobs, one New Jersey government lawyer strung together eight taxpayer-funded posts for a total income of more than $320,000 in 2008.

Damian Murray, a municipal court judge in eight Ocean County towns, made a salary 67 percent greater than that of the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Locally, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan held two government jobs, cashing in on a $49,000 salary as a state legislator and $110,676 as a political appointee in the Union County Sheriff’s Office, for a total income $159,676.

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SOUTH AMBOY – City officials announced last week that five police officers – 16.7 percent of the police force – could be layed off as soon as July 1.

“It is a difficult decision, and no one in this administration is happy about it, but the action is necessary in order to deal with the budgetary constraints we are experiencing not only here in South Amboy, but throughout the state and nation,” said South Amboy Mayor John T. O’Leary.

Officials did not name the affected officers, but they are the five most junior on the 30-man force according to the mayor.

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ELIZABETH – A 32-year-old Linden man has been charged with killing Roselle resident Gregory Fils-Aime in April 2007, authorities said.

Kareem Prunty was arrested Friday night as a result of a joint investigation between the Union County Homicide Task Force and the Linden Police Department. He was being held at Union County Jail in Elizabeth in lieu of $2 million bail, officials said.

Prunty, who had previously served time in federal prison for gun-trafficking, was charged with first degree homicide.

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