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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bergen political boss indicted

It has been widely reported that Bergen County Democratic Party Chairman Joseph Ferriero was indicted today on federal corruption charges following months of investigation, records seizures, and other activity by law enforcement officials.

Also indicted was Ferriero business associate and Bergen Democratic Party counsel Dennis Oury, who had a a joint business interest with Mr. Ferriero in a company called Government Grants Consulting LLC.

The indictment reportedly says that Mr. Ferriero and Mr. Oury conspired to hide Mr. Oury’s involvement in a company called Government Grants Consulting LLC from the officials employing Mr. Oury as borough attorney in Bergenfield.

Bergenfield's involvement in government contracts with Government Grants Consulting LLC while simultaneously employing Mr. Oury was an obvious conflict of interest and forms the basis of the indictment, according to officials quoted in The Newark Star-Ledger.

U.S. Attorney Chris Christie announced the indictments today at a press conference at the Peter Rodino Federal Building in Newark.

Mr. Ferriero and his associates were part of one of the more powerful political organizations in the state, which controlled dozens of government contracts, positions of power, and was blessed with the ability to raise millions of dollars in an instant.

As Associate Editor Juan Melli illustrated brilliantly, Mr. Ferriero’s power and the Bergen County Democratic organization effectively demonstrated why pay-to-play and the awarding of government contracts on the basis of politics and support versus ability and efficiency is damaging to New Jersey.

Mr. Ferriero controlled hundreds of contracts and governmental jobs that routinely went to political supporters and financial contributors rather than whichever person or firm would have done the best job for the least amount of taxpayer money.

Today’s indictment may shed more light on these activities, and could hopefully become a catalyst for the kind of real ethics reform necessary to keep individuals like Mr. Ferriero, who engage in such activities, out of power while simultaneously opening up the political process and providing better public services.

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