Jersey City’s comeback over the past decade has been well documented and is often cited as a model other down-and-out cities can use to spark their own rebirth. However, politics and real estate are both high stakes games and when the two combine, opportunities for dirty dealings become considerable.
Many large developers in Jersey City rely on well connected political operatives to help gain approvals and otherwise ensure their projects move forward. One such operative, Tom Bertoli, known as a fixer and expediter, has longtime ties to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and is now at the center of a federal investigation for failing to pay federal income taxes.
There could be a reckoning in New Jersey’s second-largest city, a federal investigation suggests. Some developers and builders have paid millions of dollars in all to a political operative and longtime ally of Fulop to expedite construction and permits through the city’s complex process. The tough-talking ally, Tom Bertoli, has been warned he could face criminal charges for failing to pay federal taxes on the payments.
To be clear, “Mayor Fulop hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, nor have any of the developers,” according to Bloomberg.
The tax fraud investigation itself, though, could bring attention to a series of dealings between Mayor Fulop and the real estate industry that “pose possible conflicts of interest.” Specifically, his dealings with Bayonne Community Bank, political contributions tied to the Coalition for Progress super PAC, his beach house currently under construction in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and others.
Whether or not the smoke leads to fire is not yet known. Regardless, the investigation alone could certainly tarnish the Mayor’s image as a reformer in one of the most politically corrupt states in the US.
Read the full Bloomberg report here: Jersey City’s Renaissance Puts Mayor’s Ally in a Squeeze
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