Jersey Journal/NJ.COM POLL: Public Agrees With Conclusions of Ruthless Ambition
By Louis Manzo October 13, 2014
In a recent poll of its readers [reported on October 3, 2014], the Jersey Journal and NJ.COM asked if the Bid Rig III Sting and arrests were politically motivated. The book Ruthless Ambition: The Rise and Fall of Chris Christie presented overwhelming evidence and documentation to support the conclusion that they were. An astounding amount of those polled—87.5% [424 participants]—agreed with the same conclusions reached in the book: the prosecutions were politically motivated.
The newspaper and website poll was taken in conjunction with a news story covering the sentencing of Lavern Webb-Washington. She was the last of those charged in the sting to have her final day in court. Ron Zeitlinger, the deputy managing editor who reported on the poll, points out the contrast of how prosecutors managed the media for the day of the arrests compared to how they managed Webb-Washington’s sentencing. “No showy press conference with construction board filled with mug shots after LaVern Webb-Washington of Jersey City was sentenced to 18 months probation for misspending campaign cash,” noted Zeitlinger.
The choreography for this event, staged by the infamous United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey [USAO], was a far cry from the foot stomping, jumping for joy, and sounding of trumpets that prosecutors orchestrated for the media on the day the arrests went down—July 23, 2009.
Then, the USAO staggered their hyped-up press conferences throughout the course of that beautiful summer’s day—especially during primetime newscasts—in order to milk the maximum exposure for the sting’s main benefactor: then gubernatorial candidate and former United States Attorney, Chris Christie. Christie’s pals in the USAO—prosecutors overseeing and implementing the Bid Rig III sting—made sure their former boss was the hero. They had been promised jobs in Trenton if Christie won the election, and some actually contributed to the then candidate’s campaign—all in violation of federal laws.
The Acting USA at the time, Ralph Marra, went so far overboard in his comments to the media that he was actually censored by the Department of Justice. Star Ledger reporters, who would later author The Jersey Sting, were given a unique behind the scenes look at this government operation—the one that prosecutors who had stakes in Christie’s election campaign for governor went to great lengths to have portrayed.
On the contrary, there was good reason for prosecutors to low-key the Webb-Washington courtroom event—since the arrests, the truth about the sting became exposed: prosecutors breaking additional laws by falsely accusing other defendants of crimes, simply because these same prosecutors had a stake in doing anything that they could to benefit Christie’s election: namely, prominent jobs and money.
The readers of the Jersey Journal and its online website know plenty about corrupt and compromised law enforcement officials—it was primarily Jersey Journal reporters and editors who refused to suck down the pabulum being spoon-fed to the media concerning the sting by the USAO press agents. The Jersey Journal’s streetwise news staff were one of the few New Jersey news mediums to report on the evidence documenting the corrupt actions and conduct of the prosecutors. That probably best explains the results of the poll. Other newspapers, dependent upon their relationships with federal prosecutors’ offices to feed them news and scoops, merely serve as house organs for the USAO.
The same in-the-tank media even gave prosecutors a pass as the USAO tried to camouflage the final chapter of the pathetic Webb-Washington prosecution—scheduling her sentencing to coincide and compete with the latest USAO case being humped to their media organ grinders: the sentencing of the realty TV stars of the Housewives of New Jersey. Ironically, the stars, Joe and Teresa Giudice, had pled guilty to some of the same offenses leveled against Lavern Webb-Washington.
Webb-Washington finally succumbed to the costs and pressures of trying to fight a federal prosecution, and her lawyer obviously negotiated a tremendous behind-closed-doors deal with embarrassed prosecutors, who were all too anxious to finally bring the tent down on the Bid Rig III circus that they had produced. “Corruption is corruption, but the feds never managed to land a big fish in the sting operation. And then you also have to wonder how much was spent on the entire operation—and ultimately, was it worth it?” Zeitlinger pondered.
The vast majority of reporters and editors avoided the Webb-Washington courtroom, and instead piled into the courtroom to observe the television celebrities face justice. The reality TV stars, despite clean records with no prior offenses, received jail terms of up to 30 months. Webb-Washington, despite a prior criminal offense on her record, landed probation and well wishes from one of the federal courts most distinguished jurists, Judge Jose Linares.
This is the same Judge who presided over a series of Bid Rig III cases which revealed that the government had destroyed evidence that could have been helpful to defendants, and had further levied knowingly false charges against other defendants. Judge Linares also lambasted prosecutors when remanding to jail their pet confidential informant, who also had the starring role in the sting, Solomon Dwek. Dwek made off with a Hertz rental car while under the watchful eyes of his protectors in the USAO. Linares later sentenced Dwek to seven years in prison. In hammering the informant, whom prosecutors pledged to trial and grand juries was truthful, the Judge labeled Dwek a “consummate liar,” ignoring the USAO’s pleas for leniency for their patsy.
The compassionate treatment afforded Webb-Washington by Linares, along with an imposed lenient sentence, spoke thousands of words, in fact, volumes—translation: The Judge had a belly full of the corrupted sting and wasn’t going to play along in making Webb-Washington another of the USAO scapegoats. The Judge’s actions told the prosecutors that their Bid Rig III cases were full of S***, and that they weren’t going to use his clean courtroom to air out their dirty laundry.
The editors sitting in the press rooms of New Jersey’s larger newspapers can finally clean off the pabulum crud caked up in the corners of their mouths—they don’t have to cover-up anymore for a corrupt USAO which feeds lazy journalists leaks [a crime in itself] and news stories.
As the Jersey Journal and NJ.COM poll proves, the readers know better.