Legal Honeybee sting: ex-mayor Anthony Russo still owes over $300K to Hoboken

Reader Legal Honeybee emailed some interesting documents on the former convicted mayor to Peter Cammarano previous – Anthony Russo who is believed paying off to the City of Hoboken his “restitution” for crimes against the town while mayor.

There’s a little problem with the restitution.  Anthony Russo claimed to gamble away all the proceeds of his ill gotten gains and has paid next to nothing on the ballpark $332,000 owed as part of his conviction.  His barely there payments have lowered it to only about $325,000.

In the last City Council meeting, ex-mayor Anthony Russo’s name came up and the subject of his restitution to Hoboken as well.  His cousin, Councilwoman Terry Castellano tried to give the appearance all is on the up and up, the convict in La Familia is doing right by Hoboken and paying for his crimes.  Well if you consider an ante of just over $7,000 on a bill of over $332,000 paying.

Here’s her sleight of hand in action.  It’s pure Castellano at her finest:

Notice how Councilwoman Castellano tries to direct the discussion in both the beginning and then in the end, her specialty.  Councilman Mike Russo tries to divurge the discussion for a walk on the dark side, but fails to throw the true facts off track.  The former convicted mayor Anthony Russo hasn’t in fact paid 10% of the restitution total to Hoboken.  In fact, he’s hardly paid much of it at all.

Unlike in Europe, the existing laws in the US allow people to quickly transfer over assets for a nominal figure before the government comes in and seizes it for crimes while in office.  Property sales are usually within the family and go for the bargain basement price of $1.  The Russo family maintains a lovely home in Belmar while they mostly live in subsidized housing in Church Towers.  Councilman Mike Russo has fractional “ownership” in the Belmar home as well.  (He also had a condo on Monroe Street while he was living in subsidized housing on the taxpayer’s dime.  He’s since sold it.)

If the government had employed a RICO action, it could have seized and sold the Russo Belmar property but now it’s too late.  The spoils from that visible gain are still used by the Russo family while they maintain a voting base of their “supporters” cultivated on the backs of other Hoboken taxpayers and at the expense of civil servants who really deserve an opportunity for subsidized housing.

The reason that’s not the case? Church Towers has no annual income verification tied to rent charged beyond a small $100 surcharge so there’s no incentive to leave no matter additional money residents earn.  Turnover is kept at a minimum, and Hoboken’s deserving young police, fire and other civil servants are left out in the cold.   The de facto control of the Russo clan is preserved maintain a voting base within the Church Towers domain.  The Russo’s are believed to control the whole process and the wait list.

Church Towers also had its pilot renewed in March of last year with no adjustments made whatsoever to this situation.  You can thank Councilwoman Beth Mason for that.  She traded support from the Russo clan in the spring of 2009 in a run for mayor.  They allowed her to trade away her reputation on good government while ensuring they got something in their pocket up front.  She sold out decent government for power and lost everything in the deal, especially her creditability with reform minded voters.

MSV planned on releasing the story Monday morning but on Friday, our colleague at the Hoboken Journal did a fine comprehensive piece beating us to the punch.  Seems our reader, she of legal honey nectar had an itch to get out that sting.

It’s a fine job and worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet:

Here’s the main document highlighting the huge sum owed by ex-mayor Anthony Russo.

He owed $30,000 in fines and restitution just over $332,000.  As of the end of August 2010, he still owed the $30,000 fine and about $325,000.

Update: The Hoboken Advocate posted some beguiling data showing yet another contradiction surrounding the purchase of the Russo’s Belmar home.

A transcript excerpt from Anthony Ruso’s sentencing states the property was bought with proceeds from Michelle Russo’s job as a real estate agent flipping real estate to newcomers but the mortgage shows both Anthony and Michelle Russo on it.

Wonder how much the proceeds from the sale of the Russo’s Belmar property would go to the $300,000 plus debt to Hoboken?

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