NEW YORK - One of the 44 people arrested last week in a sweeping federal probe of political corruption and money laundering in New Jersey that netted several city mayors and rabbis has been found dead in suspicious circumstances, authorities said.
Jack Shaw, 61, a longtime Democratic political consultant, was discovered dead at his Jersey City home on Tuesday afternoon in circumstances Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio called suspicious, local media reported.
An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday. The prosecutor told the New York Times the death did not appear to be a homicide but could be natural, accidental or a suicide.
Shaw was accused last week of accepting a $10,000 cash bribe from a government informant posing as a real estate developer hoping to win project approval and public contracts, according to documents in the case.
He had been working for developers in northern New Jersey, the Times said. Shaw previously worked for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio and helped with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's race for U.S. Senate in 2000.
Prosecutors said Shaw asked the informant to donate the cash to the reelection campaign of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who was not charged.
Shaw also introduced the informant to other officials who were charged in the massive investigation of corruption, human organ sales and money laundering, they said.
The 10-year investigation exposed influence-peddling and bribe-taking among a network of public officials. A separate multimillion dollar money-laundering ring funneled funds through charities operated by local rabbis, said the U.S. Attorney's office in Newark, New Jersey.
Among those arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus and Ridgefield, state Assemblymen, city council members, zoning officials, building inspectors and political candidates.
The mayor of Secaucus, Dennis Elwell, resigned on Tuesday, the first of the accused political officials to do so.
The money-laundering network by rabbis operated between Brooklyn, Deal, New Jersey, and Israel, authorities said. They laundered some $3 million for the undercover witness between June 2007 and July 2009, authorities said.
The probe also exposed a Brooklyn man accused of conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Alan Elsner)