Sheriff's officer admits stealing drugs from evidence locker


A suspended detective-sergeant of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department and former Haledon Borough council member pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute cocaine and some heroin he stole from the evidence vault at the Sheriff’s Department, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr.

Alan Souto, 40, admitted before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares that he received at least $250,000 from the sale of the drugs, which he told the judge was at least 43 kilograms (94.6 pounds) of cocaine and 700 grams of heroin.

Marra said Souto pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information, charging him with conspiracy to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine.

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Bryant can't use campaign funds for defense bills

Disgraced former state Sen. Wayne Bryant will not be able to use campaign funds to pay for his legal offense, according to report from the Associated Press.

Bryant was convicted last month of every count of bribery and pension fraud brought against him by federal authorities.

Earlier this year, before the verdict, Bryant’s lawyers asked the Election Law Enforcement Commission whether he could use $640,000 in left over campaign funds to pay his lawyer bills. When the advisory commission said that it was not permissible, Bryant’s attorneys tried again with an appeals court.

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Sussex County Republican chairman steps down to run for freeholder

Sussex County Republican chairman steps down to run for freeholder
Sussex County Republican Chairman Richard Zeoli has already emerged as the establishment candidate for freeholder next year

Sussex County Republican Chairman Richard Zeoli will step down from his leadership post to run for the freeholder seat being vacated by seven-year incumbent Glen Vetrano, who has decided not to seek reelection next year.

Zeoli, 33, has been chairman of the county’s dominant party since 2003.

“I have a real love for this county and a belief that it’s time to give back. I was encouraged by a lot of elected officials,” said Zeoli.

Zeoli will run on a slate with Assemblywoman Alison Littell Mchose (R-Franklin Twp.), Assemblyman Gary Chiusano (R-Franklin Twp.), incumbent Freeholder Susan Zellman and Surrogate Nancy Fitzgibbons. He also said that he has the formal endorsement of Vetrano.

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BCDO meets on Monday to discuss Ferriero

BCDO meets on Monday to discuss Ferriero
Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero has been on a leave of absence since September.

On Monday, the executive committee of the Bergen County Democratic Organization will meet, ostensibly to talk about finances, review and renew party bylaws.  But there's little doubt that the main topic of conversation will be what to do about their County Chairman, Joseph Ferriero.

Ferriero has taken a background role in the party since being indicted on eight corruption counts in September, after which he took a leave of absence as chairman.  But Ferriero has stayed involved in the party's inner workings, and, according to several sources, is confident that he will be able to beat the charges against him and wants to keep his post.

Several prominent Democrats who have long been allied with Ferriero defended him in the immediate aftermath of the indictment, and many still insist that it appeared politically motivated.  Still, even Ferriero's staunchest backers are said to be coming around to the idea that his leadership of the party is politically untenable in a potentially dangerous electoral climate next year.

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Chertoff returns to Union County roots

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will reflect on his time in office and discuss the nation’s preparedness at a special 9 a.m. appearance on Thursday, Dec. 4, at Kean University in Union. 

A former U.S. Attorney in New Jersey and Elizabeth native, Chertoff has served as the country’s chief security officer since 2005.

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), a friend of Chertoff’s, arranged the speaking event with the college.

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Republican splinter group calls for Rumana's resignation as Passaic chairman

A splinter group of Republicans in Passaic County has asked the county’s GOP committee members to encourage Chairman Scott Rumana to resign by January 1.

GOP Strong, which counts former Passaic County Republican Chairmen Mike Mecca and Peter Murphy among its leaders, issued a letter today to county committee members and “concerned Republicans” arguing that Rumana, who’s also an assemblyman, has failed to revive the beleaguered party.

“Nowhere are the failings of the Republican Party more evident than in Passaic County, where the party chairman Scott Rumana has presided over a string of electoral failures that are disheartening and disappointing,” read the letter, which is signed by Mecca.

Mecca said that after presiding over three straight election losses as a county chairman, he resigned, realizing that it was difficult to balance being an elected official and party chairman at the same time.

I knew that when I lost three elections in arrow, it was time for a change. And Mr. Rumana has lost every county-wide election as chairman including freeholder, county clerk and sheriff races,” he said. 

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Merkt covers a lot of roadway as his campaign tries to gain traction

Merkt covers a lot of roadway as his campaign tries to gain traction
Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham)

When Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham) officially kicked off his gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 22, it proved no awesome headline-grabbing event just days before an historic presidential election.

But the 12-year veteran of the Assembly and long-shot candidate for the Republican nomination for governor said he made his declaration when he did because he was steamed over news about the way Democrats during the Codey administration managed a state fund supposedly dedicated to property tax relief.

 Merkt believes that his money notwithstanding, millionaire Gov. Jon Corzine will present Republicans with a soft target next year.

 “Let’s face it, he wanted to be Secretary of Treasury and didn’t get it,” said Merkt. “He’s running for governor as a consolation prize. And his wealth can be turned against him. I think you point out to the people that here’s a guy who spent $65 million to run for the U.S. Senate and $40 million to run for governor, and for that we got three years of misery and suffering and a declining economy.”

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The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 23rd

Between RGA gigs, Christie doesn't skip a beat bashing Trenton Dems at seaside LGI town hall LONG BEACH ISLAND – Gov. Chris Christie squeezed LBI between trips to IowaNew HampshireConnecticut and – tomorrow – Colorado – just long enough to puncture his favorite Trenton-based targets in front of a...

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Legislation needed to restore balance in election financing

By JEFF BRINDLE Much has been written about the magnitude of campaign spending by independent special interest groups.  But until now, there has been little discussion about the impact. During the 2012 Presidential and Congressional contests,... Read More >


(7-23-14) Rabner Opinion Keeps “Christie for President” Alive - Gov. Chris Christie’s fight to prevent same-sex marriage in New Jersey ended with Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.... more »
The Perry-Paul Debate is Healthy for the GOP – and for America  The foreign policy debate in the media between prospective GOP Presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry and... more »
(Washington DC)-- Two recent votes on Capitol Hill suggest an overdue and radical departure from our nation's Draconian and costly War on Drugs.  It's a long-overdue discussion (and not just... more »
New Jersey 2014 Primary Day Recap (6/4/14) - By the numbers. Worth the read for those interested in GOTV targeting and ballot position logistics.... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“We lived up to our end of the bargain. He didn’t live up to his end of the deal.” - Ed Connolly, president of the New Jersey Firemen’s Benevolent Association.

- The Bergen Record


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