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Former Assemblyman from Hoboken Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Fraud



Carmelo G. Garcia, a former New Jersey Assemblyman from Hoboken, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and bribery. Garcia, who served as Newark’s deputy mayor and director of the Department of Economic and Housing Development (DEHD), admitted to accepting bribes from two Newark businessmen in exchange for his influence over city property deals.

Garcia’s career in public service includes notable achievements and controversies. In 2001, Mayor Dave Roberts appointed him as Hoboken’s first minority Director of Human Services. He left this position in 2007 to become the assistant director of the federally funded Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA), becoming the first Latino in that role. Garcia’s tenure as executive director of the HHA ended in 2014 when he was terminated. Subsequently, he sued the housing board, alleging that Mayor Dawn Zimmer was removing minorities from positions of power. Although his initial lawsuit was dismissed, Garcia ultimately settled in 2017 for $700,000.

From 2017 to 2019, while serving in high-level positions in Newark, Garcia accepted significant cash payments and luxury jewelry from Frank Valvano Jr. and Irwin Sablosky. In return, Garcia used his official position to benefit their real estate projects, including securing redevelopment agreements and purchasing Newark-owned properties.

“Garcia’s actions defrauded the people of Newark of their right to honest services,” said U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger. “He violated the public trust to line his own pockets.”

Garcia faces severe penalties. Each conspiracy and fraud charge carries a potential 20-year prison sentence, and the bribery charge carries a 10-year maximum term. He has also agreed to forfeit the $25,000 corrupt cash payment and the jewelry obtained through the scheme. Sentencing is scheduled for December 12, 2024.

“We entrust public officials to act in the best interest of the people they serve, not to abuse their position for their own personal gain,” commented FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy.