The mayor of New Jersey's capital city was arrested on Monday on corruption charges for allegedly accepting bribes during an undercover sting operation, FBI and court records showed.
Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, 46, his brother, Ralphiel Mack, 39, and business associate Joseph A. "JoJo" Giorgianni, 63, faced charges in connection with an alleged kickback scheme to sell city owned land to investors for well under the assessed value.
The three were due in court later in the day, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said at a news conference.
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"The investigation revealed evidence of a conspiracy among these defendants and others to corrupt certain functions of Trenton City government in favor of purported developer seeking to build a parking garage on city-owned property in exchange for cash payments totaling approximately $119,000," according to a complaint filed in federal court.
Mack, who was charged specifically with conspiracy to corrupt commerce by extortion, employed intermediaries, "used code words and limited discussions of the scheme over the telephone" to avoid detection, the complaint said.
For example, Giorgianni would use the term "Uncle Remus" in conversations with the mayor to connote when he had received a cash payment, Fishman said.
The charges were the result of a two-year FBI investigation that incorporated two informants cooperating with law enforcement. Fishman said at least one of those moles wore a wire to record conversations for the FBI.
Each conspiracy charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, Fishman said.
Any trial would not likely occur until next year, he said.
Mack's office declined to comment when reached by CNN.
Ralphiel Mack was the head football coach at Trenton High School, according to the complaint.
Giorgianni was the owner of a sandwich shop and clubhouse in Trenton who, according to the complaint, described himself as someone who acts as a buffer for the mayor's questionable activities.
In a separate complaint, which Fishman stressed was not connected to Mayor Mack or his brother, the prosecutor's office charged Giorgianni and eight others with conspiracy to distribute the highly-addictive prescription painkiller oxycodone.
Fishman said Giorgianni used his sandwich shop, JoJo's Steakhouse as a front for a drug dealing operation, storing the narcotics there, distributing the pills to dealers, then processing the cash exchanged for the painkillers.
Two months ago, agents raided the homes of Mack, his brother, and Giorgianni, before raiding Trenton's City Hall the next day.
Mack responded to the July raids by saying he had "not violated the public trust in any way, nor have I violated any of my public duties."
A Democrat who began his term in July 2010, Mack has been beleaguered by questions about public finance and accusations of cronyism.
Last May, his deputy mayor, Paul Sigmund IV, was arrested and charged with heroin possession and assaulting a police officer, which led to Sigmund's prompt resignation.