The former mayor of Passaic, New Jersey will spend the next two years in prison after being convicted of soliciting and accepting bribes from developers who wanted to build low-income housing in the city.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, a federal judge sentenced Alex Blanco to spend 27 months in prison for taking $110,000 in corrupt payments, much of which was money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, from 2010 to 2012, two developers sought to build eight low-income residential units on property they owned in Passaic.
After the Passaic City Council and the Passaic Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the projects, Blanco dispatched an intermediary to approach the developers in July 2011.
According to court documents, Blanco’s intermediary told the developers that they were expected to provide a “sizable payment” to the mayor to ensure that the project would move forward.
Some time after that meeting took place, the Passaic City Council approved the release of $216,400 in HUD funds to the developers, money that was designated for use on the project.
Then, in early September 2011, Blanco arranged for a meeting with the developers where solicited and agreed to accept $75,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The following day, Blanco met one of the developers in Clifton, New Jersey, and asked for the kickback in cash. Court document showed that the developer told Blanco that the developer brought signed, blank checks, which could be made out to whoever Blanco chose.
Blanco took those checks, which totaled $65,000, and had them filled in, arranged for them to be cashed, and pocketed the cash.