Michael Russo moans “enough is enough” but offers the public no bank documents in FBI-Solomon Dwek bribe controversy
Councilman Michael Russo declines to make public bank statements exonerating him in FBI-Dwek bribe controversy
After filing four-year late campaign records from the Russo for Hoboken campaign, Councilman Michael Russo complained “enough was enough” on the FBI-Solomon Dwek controversy and suspicions he had flipped in the largest government sting in NJ history back in 2009.
Russo refuses to release to the public bank statements that would exonerate suspicion he turned government witness when he met with Solomon Dwek at a NJ restaurant in the spring of 2009. Instead, he reviewed limited information with the Hudson Reporter.
The missing information in the bank statements covered a key time when FBI informant Solomon Dwek rained cash on NJ and Hudson County government officials and met with Michael Russo in a Jersey City tavern over lunch and agreed to a series of payments starting with $5,000 before the 2009 Hoboken mayoral election.
Russo went to the friendly Old Guard rag, the Hudson Reporter and they conferred over documents and what is reported to be the relevant bank statements during that time period then filed with NJ ELEC.
The Hudson Reporter issued a bill of health to Russo saying the information on deposits matched what was submitted to ELEC but in a story two weeks ago; the water carrying Old Guard publication said they saw a Russo for Hoboken bank statement with a $1,190.81 balance.
The ELEC report however shows an account balance of only $210.81 raising additional questions on exactly what kind of review of the Russo for Hoboken bank statements did occur.
Russo says he will release the bank statements only if a request comes from NJ ELEC.
Mirroring the cry heard here by one commenter here, Russo oddly lamented to the Hudson Reporter:
“Enough is enough,” he said. “Don’t you think if a check was made out by an FBI informant, the FBI would have found the check by now?”
Oddly, Russo parroted the same excuse about the FBI finding a check even as they were running live surveillance with Solomon Dwek and would know about any transaction: cash, money order, or check long before any bank statement would be generated.
In addition, Solomon Dwek didn’t make payments by check and repeatedly insisted his name “not appear on anything.” At the Jersey City lunch, bagman Maher Khalil was the go between and the arrangement discussed was any payments would be laundered through him and not by check from Solomon Dwek. How any payments would be “cleaned” was not specifically discussed other than Russo directing Khalil to make the funds out to his campaign account: Russo for Hoboken.
It’s unclear what if any conversations or transactions took place between Michael Russo and Maher Khalil after the lunch. Khalil would later plead in the fall to accepting $72,500 from Dwek.
The weekend story did reveal one piece of interesting news from the ELEC filing in way of another corrupt Jersey City official, Phil Kenny. In March 2009, Russo made a $1,000 contribution to the Jersey City Councilman. That contribution would have likely been prior to Russo’s lunch with Solomon Dwek.
Russo claimed the contribution was more of a favor due to a relationship he had with Kenny’s niece. There’s nothing detailing that relationship or why it led to a Hoboken councilman giving $1,000 to the Jersey City councilman Kenny who would later be snared in the FBI sting for taking $5,000.
Buried in the Hudson Reporter article is a quote at the end by Mayor Zimmer. She declined to issue a bill of health to Michael Russo in the Hudson Reporter’s hypothetical invite, instead saying:
“If Councilman Russo releases all of the bank statements for Russo for Hoboken, and those bank statements exonerate him on having received the money, whether through Mayor Khalil or through straw donors, then I would consider the issue closed,” she said. “Needless to say, if he has received contributions from anyone during the relevant period, then it would be necessary to research those donors before any conclusion could be reached.”
Four years late filing the critical campaign documents and declining to provide the public definitive proof in his bank statements, Russo is quoted saying with no hint of irony, “Enough is enough. There was no reason to continue down this road.”
It’s a road Michael Russo himself built.
|Is Michael Russo like Solomon Dwek a good rat?
Original bank statements from his Russo for Hoboken campaign
that could clear his name remain withheld.