5 more people charged in public corruption investigation

August 15, 2020 GMT

Five more people have been charged in the ongoing corruption investigation that already involves a former state Assemblyman and a Jersey City school board president, according to officials.

According to a press release from the attorney general, the defendants allegedly donated $239,000 to political parties and candidates and were later secretly reimbursed by a law firm, NJ Advance Media reported.

The law firm then claimed it made no notable contributions in municipalities where it sought contracts.

New Jersey law prohibits making political donations on the behalf of others and those five people were charged fourth-degree concealment or misrepresentation of contributions on Thursday.


Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement that his office is determined to hold those who would “seek to distort the political process” accountable.

“New Jersey’s campaign finance and pay-to-play laws are designed to ensure that law firms and other contractors cannot purchase an unfair advantage in the competition for public contracts by making undisclosed or overly large campaign contributions,” Grewal said.

Vanessa Brown, 40, and Christopher Brown, 37, both of West Caldwell, Ricardo Balanzateguimaldo, 40, of Bogota, Erin O’Reilly, who is also known as Erin DeMauro, 41, of Lincoln Park, and Suzanne P. Gayet, 63, of Boonton all face up to $10,000 in fines and up to a year-and-a-half in prison if convicted, according to officials.

It was not immediately clear if they had lawyers. Calls made to numbers listed for the defendants either went unanswered or were disconnected after several rings. Balanzateguimaldo could not immediately be reached.