Scores of people were arrested on Thursday in a sweeping federal investigation of public corruption and money laundering in New Jersey.
Among the 44 people arrested, at least three New Jersey mayors and five rabbis, authorities said.
Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, 31, the city's youngest mayor, who took office 23 days ago was charged with taking $25,000 in bribes, including $10,000 last Thursday, said the U.S. Attorney's office in Newark, New Jersey.
The case exposed a corrupt network of public officials who were all too willing to take cash in exchange for promised official action, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra said in a statement.
It seemed that everyone wanted a piece of the action. The corruption was widespread and pervasive.
Federal officials also accused five rabbis, including the national leader of the Syrian Jewish community, of laundering more than $3 million, said acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra Jr.
In total, people paid more than $650,000 in bribes to New Jersey public officials, he said.
Rabbis accused of money-laundering were Eliahu Ben Haim, the principal rabbi of a synagogue in Deal; Saul Kassin, chief rabbi of a synagogue in Brooklyn; Edmund Nahum, the principal rabbi of another synagogue in Deal; and Mordchai Fish, a rabbi at a synagogue in Brooklyn.
Most of the defendants were arrested early on Thursday by federal agents.
One of the many criminal complaints filed in the case also accused a Brooklyn man, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, with conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant, at a cost of $160,000 to the transplant recipient.
According to the complaint, Rosenbaum said he had been brokering the sale of kidneys for 10 years.
Accused were Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, state Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt and Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Elwell was charged with taking a $10,000 cash bribe, and Anthony Suarez, mayor of Ridgefield, was charged with agreeing to accept a $10,000 corrupt cash payment.
Beldini, Jersey City deputy mayor, was charged with taking $20,000 in illegal contributions.
Also named were state assemblymen L. Harvey Smith, and Daniel Van Pelt, who were charged with accepting bribes.