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New Jersey corruption case advances with two guilty pleas

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A corruption scandal case that shook New Jersey – involving three mayors, five rabbis, two state legislators, and a man accused of organ trafficking – took a step forward Wednesday when two of the accused entered guilty pleas.

Guy Catrillo, a former planning aide, and Maher Khalil, the suspended deputy director of the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services, admitted to a federal judge that they took bribes – worth tens of thousands of dollars – from an undercover witness to facilitate business deals.

The undercover sting, which stretched for two years across multiple countries and netted as many as 44 people, exposed the deep and wide roots of graft in New Jersey.News of the sting has captured attention in New Jersey and beyond, as much for its cast of characters as for the outlandish details of the sting, as the New York Times described in July:

It was replete with tales of the illegal sales of body parts; of furtive negotiations in diners, parking lots and boiler rooms; of nervous jokes about “patting down” a man who turned out to indeed be an informant; and, again and again, of the passing of cash — once in a box of Apple Jacks cereal stuffed with $97,000.

At the center of the operation was Solomon Dwek, “who was arrested in 2006 on a bank fraud charge,” Bloomberg reports. Mr. Dwek became an undercover witness and solicited various officials and political operators with bribes on behalf of the federal sting.

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