OCTOBER 06, 2005
With a population of 7,750 and a land area of only 1.4 square miles, Keyport is a quaint little city in New Jersey that bills itself as “The Pearl of the Bayshore.” But its mayor, a man named John Merla, has been up to no good, according to a federal indictment.
Merla has been charged with four counts of accepting corrupt payments, one count of conspiracy to obtain corrupt payments under color of official right and two counts of defrauding the public of honest services.
Investigators say Merla took around $23,000 in bribes and cash payments from cooperating witnesses and undercover FBI agents investigating corruption involving numerous Monmouth County officials.
The FBI calls the investigation “Operation Bid Rig” and federal prosecutors say Merla’s grand-jury indictment is, not only an important part of the government’s ongoing fight against public corruption, but also reinforces the notion that this is not conduct that can go unpunished.
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