The arrest of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack this week made him the 17th New Jersey mayor to be arrested in the past decade for corruption, adding to a legacy of unethical political behavior that has plagued the reputation of the Garden State.
Mack was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for allowing developers to build a parking garage in the state capital. The developers, however, were government informants who launched the parking garage plan in order to catch Mack accepting the money.
The mayor's brother, Ralphiel Mack, along with a Trenton business owner Joseph Giorgianni, were also charged in connection with the plot. They are each charged with conspiracy to extort the informants.
The bust comes three years after Operation Bid Rig, one of the largest sweeps of political corruption in history in which 44 New Jersey politicians, public officials, and rabbis were arrested on corruption charges in 2009.
Six city mayors were arrested in the round-up, adding to the 10 mayors who had been arrested in independent stings during the previous five years. The heads of major New Jersey cities including Atlantic City, Newark, Hoboken and Paterson have all been nabbed for alleged illegal behavior.
The long history of political misdeeds in the Garden State may earn New Jersey a reputation as the most corrupt state in the union, but the Center for Public Integrity disagrees.
According to a report released by the Center in March, New Jersey is now one of the least corrupt states in the country, owing to tough laws passed over the past 20 years in response to frequent indictments by the federal government against New Jersey officials.
The CPI awarded the title of being the most "at-risk" for corruption to Georgia.