HOBOKEN, N.J. – The city's mayor resigned Friday just three weeks after taking office, the latest casualty of a sweeping federal corruption probe that resulted in the arrests of 44 people, including rabbis and dozens of public officials in the New York City area.
Mayor Peter Cammarano III, 32, who won a June runoff election to become Hoboken's youngest mayor, is accused of accepting $25,000 in bribes in exchange for help on a purported high-rise building project in the city. He is the second elected official to resign in the wake of the arrests.
Dennis Elwell, the mayor of Secaucus, New Jersey, who was among those arrested in the corruption sweep, resigned earlier this week.
"I apologize to the residents of Hoboken for the disruption and disappointment this case has caused," Cammarano, an election-law attorney, said in his resignation letter. He reiterated his innocence and said he still intends to fight the charges.
New Jersey, the setting for the television mob drama "The Sopranos" and the 1954 Marlon Brando classic "On the Waterfront," about crookedness on the docks, has long been known for government corruption. But over the last five years, hundreds of government officials from both major parties have been charged with crimes involving betrayal of public trust: taking bribes, getting no-show jobs to boost state pension benefits or lavishly spending public money on themselves.
This month's arrests snared 44, including three mayors, two state assemblymen, five rabbis and many other public officials. It also brought fresh attention to Hoboken — a 1-square-mile (2.59-square-kilometer) city known as Frank Sinatra's hometown, one of America's earliest settlements and more recently a nightlife mecca for the young and hip.
Cammarano's arrest comes at a tough time for Hoboken, which sits across the Hudson River from Manhattan and is home to many professionals who work in New York. Financial industry layoffs have hit the New Jersey city hard, flooding the real-estate market with homes for sale or rent.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine had praised Cammarano as a rising star in the Democratic Party. But that turned to disgust after Cammarano's arrest and Corzine announced on Thursday that the mayor would resign.
Cammarano was replaced by City Council President Dawn Zimmer, who was sworn Friday as the city's first female acting mayor.