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Hoboken Council Lawyers Up as FBI Probes Sandy Funding Threat Allegations

Federal agents have spoken to Mayor Dawn Zimmer's chief of staff, Dan Bryan, and Juan Melli, her communications director, according to NBC News.

Dawn Zimmer / File photo
Dawn Zimmer / File photo

The City of Hoboken hired a lawyer Wednesday as federal agents conduct an investigation into allegations that New Jersey officials would deny relief funds to storm-battered Hoboken last year unless the city's mayor supported a development project.

City council voted 5-4 Wednesday to hire Newark-based criminal defense attorney Gerry Krovatin to "represent the council’s interests" as the investigation proceeds, according to northjersey.com.

The resolution authorized $17,000 to be spent on the attorney.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer didn’t appear before the council Wednesday night, according to the report, but told the council in a letter that she had provided documentation regarding the case to the U.S. attorney in Newark.

Zimmer alleges that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration threatened to withhold funds to help the city recover from Superstorm Sandy unless she expedited a politically-connected development project. 

Zimmer, a Democrat and former Christie ally, told MSNBC host Steve Kornacki that she was pressured by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; Richard Constable, the current commissioner of community affairs; and Lori Grifa, the former commissioner, among others.

Christie's administration has denied the accusations.

FBI agents were involved in the investigation, according to a report on NBC News Thursday, questioning witnesses and telling them to “preserve all documents and emails relating to the allegations” by Zimmer.

Dan Bryan, the mayor’s chief of staff, and Juan Melli, her communications director, were among the Zimmer confidants questioned by the feds.

Guadagno over the weekend blasted Zimmer’s allegations as "completely false."

cassandra January 23, 2014 at 11:50 PM
Why a criminal lawyer?
Campaign news January 24, 2014 at 07:54 AM
@cassandra, hope for the best, plan for the worst. They are siccing the entire RNC on her if you haven't noticed. If this goes bad for Christie, the RNC loses their 2016 candidate. So they need to make sure it goes bad for Zimmer. Surely you've noticed....
PeoplePlease January 24, 2014 at 09:51 AM
Calling these funds "relief funds" is a bit of a stretch. These funds ($300MM) were set aside for infrastructure improvement, not Sandy relief. Our Mayor wants more money to complete a project of her's and our Governor wants her support on one of his projects. It just happens that these dollars were appropriated under the Sandy Relief umbrella. Actual relief dollars lay in a separate pot and Hoboken has received close to $23MM in true relief.
cassandra January 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM
is there a record anywhere of how much of the mitigation money (infrastructure improvement) has been awarded and what towns received here? This the data we need to see if Hoboken was in fact shortchanged. On the otherhand I have never heard our Mayor say that Hoboken was in fact shortchanged - only that a quid pro quo threat was made. This whole thing maybe a tempest in a teapot. I just dont know. I do know that the polls show that Hillary's chances against Christie have increased significantly.
Eric Kurta January 24, 2014 at 02:29 PM
I don't normally nitpick online spelling and grammar, but when a communications major who fancies himself the smartest guy in the room writes "her's" instead of the proper possessive pronoun "hers" I cannot resist but to point it out. This is typically learned in the third or fourth grade.
PeoplePlease January 24, 2014 at 05:05 PM
Just think what that says about the other guys in this room... Cassandra however may be a bit smarter than anyone who has covered this story as a he said she said tale. The proof is or will be in the pudding. All someone needs to do is show the numbers...keeping in mind that there needs to be a distinction of "aid" money and "preventative/development/mitigation" money. The $100MM requested by the mayor and in question here is from a $300MM pot designated for preventative/mitigation development.
Ojo Rojo January 24, 2014 at 07:44 PM
No, Cassandra is not that smart. She can't even figure out that when federal prosecutors are involved, the type of attorney you hire is the type that deals with prosecutors instead of some ambulance chaser who advertises on TV.
cassandra January 25, 2014 at 12:13 AM
Only in the blogosphere can the asking of a question be viewed as being "not that smart". I guess some bloggers are so intelligent they know all the answers.
Brash Brazen January 25, 2014 at 01:52 AM
The tubby Trenton Trencherman is in terrible trouble ...
300Marshall January 25, 2014 at 09:09 AM
Zimmer was not at the meeting? Was she home with Juan with help writeing in her journal?
300Marshall January 25, 2014 at 09:11 AM
Mayors majority allowed $17,000 in tax payer money to be spent on lawyers! And when that money runs out they'll use more tax payer money for there own defense.
Campaign news January 25, 2014 at 09:11 AM
"Writing." Dunce.
Campaign news January 25, 2014 at 09:24 AM
"Their." Dunce.
300Marshall January 25, 2014 at 07:43 PM
Thanks for the correction Mr Melli. How is helping Dawn with her dfiary going by the way?
cassandra January 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM
From today's Jersey Journal An Associated Press review of data found that Hoboken has thus far received a level of aid from state-run programs that is similar to what other towns were awarded. Hoboken has so far received two state grants from pools of state-controlled money, according to The Associated Press review. The state awarded $25 million for energy projects to help deal with outages; Hoboken received $142,080, the same amount as 39 other recipients. The state also provided money to communities hit by the storm to hire experts and come up with long-term recovery plans; Hoboken’s $200,000 grant was the fourth-highest allocation among the 35 local governments in the program. Meanwhile, a Hudson County lawyer who filed a lawsuit against Zimmer is raising questions about whether or not she answered truthfully during a July 2013 deposition when she was asked if she kept a diary. In July 2013, Zimmer was questioned by attorney Louis Zayas, who was representing former Hoboken public safety director Angel Alicea in a wrongful termination suit. Zayas accused Zimmer this weekend of concealing the existence of her diary in that deposition. It would be interesting for the lawyer to release the exact text of the pertinant part of the deposition. At least it is not she said- she said and the public can decide as to who is telling the truth
cassandra January 27, 2014 at 12:27 PM
The last two sentences were not in the article but rather my comment
Eric Kurta January 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Cannot speak to the authenticity of this excerpt, but only say that if accurate, the question asked was not if she keeps a diary but if she keeps records/notes of meetings with department heads. “When you have meetings regarding day-to-day activities involving Hoboken business with your department heads, do you memorialize any of the conversation that takes place yourself?” by attorney Zayas. She responded, “No, I don’t transcribe it.” The deposing attorney followed up by asking whether she wrote “notes in a calendar or some sort of memo pad that says follow up on a text or this was said during this meeting; anything that would help you recall what was said during the course of the meeting?” Zimmer responded, “No, I don’t.”
cassandra January 27, 2014 at 01:38 PM
If the Zayas suit proceeds, the diary , now it is known to exist, will be called as evidence. Where this will lead is hard to tell.
FAP January 27, 2014 at 02:46 PM
It's funny. If Zayas actually asked about the Mayor having a diary don't you think he would have shown EVERYONE that part of the transcript? Instead we see him asking about transcriptions of meetings and having a meeting calendar. None of those are a personal diary or journal.
cassandra January 27, 2014 at 05:44 PM
Time will tell

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