Lawsuit Claims Jersey City Public Safety Official Shut Down Developer’s Projects

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jersey city heights real estate market
Central Avenue in The Heights

A builder renovating two homes claims that a longtime politico revoked his permits over trivial issues as part of an effort to “teach [him] a lesson” and stall the work.


Two property holding companies and a developer named Moshe Sugar filed a complaint against Jersey City on May 24 in Hudson County Civil Court. The filing accuses Michael Manzo, an employee in the city’s Department of Public Safety, of “misusing the power of his official position to deprive plaintiffs of their constitutionally protected property rights.”

Sugar is spearheading two renovation projects on Waverly Street and Charles Street in The Heights and required two traffic permits to close the sidewalk and street near the properties. The case says he properly acquired those permits, but then he inadvertently posted the paperwork at the wrong properties.

The developer says he immediately posted the appropriate permits when the mistake was discovered but despite the correction, Michael Manzo “revoked the permits for both projects” and “effectively shut down” the sites.

The case claims the move was retaliatory, as the developers were later informed that Manzo stated that he was going to “teach Moshe Sugar a lesson” with the move. The plaintiffs claim they were additionally informed that Sugar “needed to become friends with…Michael Manzo lest he suffer the wrath of Manzo’s heavy-handedness.”

The filing says the revocation of the permits was “without cause, unjustified, without basis, intentional and improper.” Jersey Digs has reached out to a spokesperson for Jersey City and has not received a comment regarding the lawsuit, which does not have any date set for further court proceedings.

Manzo, a former firefighter who unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2009, pleaded guilty that same year on conspiracy charges to commit extortion. Manzo admitted to accepting $5,000 from Solomon Dwek, a federal informant who was posing as a developer during the infamous Operation Bid Rig scandal.

Per the Jersey City Times, Manzo was reportedly investigated by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this year stemming from an assault that allegedly took place near Sip and Bryant avenues.

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