Yet another African-American mayor has fallen victim to corruption allegations in one of the country’s urban centers—this time Trenton, NJ, Mayor Tony Mack, who was arrested by federal agents this morning for extortion, along with his brother and another man who is a convicted sex offender.
Mack is just the latest in a long list of city mayors—from Sharpe James and Marion Barry to Bill Campbell and Kwame Kilpatrick—who have been accused of criminal activity while in office.
Mack fell victim to an FBI sting operation that accused him, his brother Ralphiel and convicted sex offender Joseph Giorgianni, a Mack supporter who owns a Trenton sandwich shop, of conspiring to obstruct, delay and affect interstate commerce by extortion.
According to federal prosecutors, Mack used his influence in connection with a proposed parking garage in Trenton—except the parking garage was fabricated by investigators to ensnare Mack, whose financial issues since he took office attracted the attention of federal investigators.
Mack became mayor in July 2010 and the investigation began just two months later in September 2010—meaning they had their eye on him from the start of his term.
The fake developers in the case gave the defendants $54,000 and were supposed to give them another $65,000, according to court documents that laid out the sting and the accusations of wrongdoing.
The FBI used informants to mostly talk to Giorgianni, whom the criminal complaint portrayed as a boastful man.
Giorgianni complains at one point that Mack cannot take bribes because he’s being watched so closely, the documents said. “It’s sickening,” he told one of the informants, according to the court papers.
“I like to make money for my friends,” he said, according to the papers, and went on to reference infamously corrupt political boss William M. Tweed. “I like to do it like the Boss Tweed way. You know Boss Tweed ran Tammany Hall?”
He was also caught on tape telling one of the informants, “One thing about the Mack administration — when I say that, it’s me and Mack — we’re not greedy. We’re corruptible. We want anybody to make a buck,” and “I’m there to buffer the thing where, you know, take the weight… going to jail’s my business. It ain’t his.”