Former NJ mayor headed to prison for accepting HUD funds as bribes

by Ryan Smith20 Apr 2017

The former mayor of Passaic, N.J., will spend more than two years in prison for accepting bribes from developers. Much of the money was siphoned from Housing and Urban Development funds.

Alex D. Blanco, 45, pleaded guilty to charges of soliciting and accepting corrupt payments. According to prosecutors, between 2010 and 2012, as mayor of Passaic, Blanco pocketed $110,000 from two developers who wanted to build eight low-income residential units on property they owned in the city. After the city council and zoning board had approved the project, Blanco had an intermediary approach the developers. The developers were told that they would be expected to give Blanco “a sizable payment” to ensure the project could proceed, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

Shortly thereafter, the Passaic City Council authorized the release of $216,400 in HUD funds to the developers – money that had been earmarked for the project, according to the US Attorney’s Office. In September of 2011, Blanco met with the developers and accepted checks totaling $65,000. About eight days later, he accepted an additional $40,000 from the developers, and in March 2012 he took a further $5,000.
Much of the money came from the HUD funds released to the developers, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

“Mayor Blanco admitted to aggressively soliciting and accepting illegal payments from developers, taking for himself federal money that was intended to help provide housing for some of the city’s poorest residents,” Acting US Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said.

Blanco was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $110,000.

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