US agents have arrested 44 elected officials and Jewish rabbis in New Jersey in a huge anti-corruption sweep across the state.
Charges of extortion, bribery, money laundering and human organ trafficking were stunning even for a state long notorious for official corruption and organised crime.
Five rabbis were among suspects, along with the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus and Ridgefield, the Jersey City deputy mayor and council president, two state assembly members, and numerous other politicians, prosecutors said.Acting US Attorney for the district of New Jersey Ralph Marra told a press conference the sweep demonstrated "the pervasive nature of public corruption in this state".
"The politicians willingly put themselves up for sale," he said, while "clergymen cloak their extensive criminal activity behind a facade of rectitude."
Raids began shortly after dawn on Thursday, officials said, targeting a who's who of state leaders.
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