NEWARK, N.J. – A fund-raiser for Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he solicited $40,000 in cash and campaign donations as part of a shakedown scheme in which the governor has also been implicated.
David D'Amiano (search), 44, entered his plea to two fraud charges 10 weeks after being charged with extortion, bribery and other offenses in an indictment that also said an unidentified state official used the code word "Machiavelli" to show that political officials were helping.
McGreevey acknowledged he is the state official referred to. But he insisted he did nothing wrong, and said the mention of Machiavelli was an offhand literary reference. He has not been charged.
The donations were solicited after McGreevey was elected and went to the state's Democratic party.
The D'Amiano matter is one of several scandals swirling about the McGreevey administration. Last month, McGreevey announced he is gay, had an extramarital homosexual affair and would resign Nov. 15.
Earlier, McGreevey's top contributor, developer Charles Kushner (search), pleaded guilty to violating campaign donation rules and admitted retaliating against a witness he knew to be cooperating in a federal investigation — his sister — by having a prostitute seduce her husband.
Officials said D'Amiano solicited the $40,000 from a dairy farmer in exchange for helping him get a better price from the county for his land. After D'Amiano got involved, the county's offer of $3 million rose to $7.4 million, according to the indictment.
D'Amiano faces about 2 to 21/2 years in prison when sentenced Dec. 28. He is not cooperating with investigators.
D'Amiano's lawyer, Edward J. Plaza, told reporters D'Amiano did not agree to cooperate with investigators because, "There was no one else criminally involved in this matter."
Minutes later, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said the investigation was continuing, adding that D'Amiano's attorney had "no idea and no basis to make that statement."
Christie repeatedly noted that the sworn statement that D'Amiano gave in court was an "open inconsistency" with McGreevey's public comment about the Machiavelli reference.
"(McGreevey) did not put forward an innocent, literary allusion by using the word, 'Machiavelli,"' Christie said.