SEPTEMBER 28, 2006
A New Jersey mayor who took a $3,000 bribe from the owner of a demolition company in exchange for a city contract claims he was impaired by alcohol when he accepted the cash and that authorities took advantage of his drinking problem.
The corrupt former mayor of Hazlet, Paul Coughlin, was charged with extortion, conspiracy and accepting corrupt payments. This week a judge sentenced him to 24 months in prison, two years of supervised probation and he must pay a $5,000 fine. His attorneys say the booze made him do it.
If so, there must be a lot of drinking going on in New Jersey’s Monmouth County, which has about 646,00o residents. Besides Coughlin, nine other public officials have been arrested and charged in a widespread federal corruption sting that has busted various city and county employees as well as prominent business owners who conspired with them to defraud the municipalities.
Among them are former council members and county supervisors, a fire marshal, planning board supervisor, a deputy mayor and a county sheriff. Most of the charges involve money laundering, extortion, defrauding municipalities and accepting bribes. Their crimes have undoubtedly cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One local newspaper names all the corrupt officials and their business cronies, which include the rich owners of a trucking company that laundered money and schemed to defraud the government of Neptune out of thousands of dollars.
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