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PROSECUTOR SEEKS VICTIMS IN BRIBERY CASE

6/4/12 FROM NEW JERSEY LAW JOURNAL

"A municipal prosecutor was arrested in a Bayonne courtroom Monday by Hudson County investigators who watched as he allegedly solicited and received a $500 bribe.

Rakesh Desai, 42, is charged with two counts of bribery, a second-degree offense carrying a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio is encouraging others who might have paid bribes to Desai to come forward, under the assurance that "they're not at risk of any charges. They'd be treated as victims."

Desai allegedly promised the man a lower fine in return for $500. The defendant, under the detectives' supervision, delivered the cash to Desai. He was arrested and the money was seized.

Defazio calls the incident "a rogue event," noting, "This is the first time we've had something like this occur. I hope people realize this really is an aberration."

Jeffrey Gold, immediate past chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association's Municipal Practice Committee, says the incident, if true, "cheapens the profession, but there are bad apples."

The municipal court system — where the prosecutors work part time and often interact directly with pro se defendants — can create ethical concerns, Gold says, though the accusations against Desai are "certainly not something I've ever heard of personally."

"We've worked very hard to get much higher standards in municipal courts," says Gold, of Gold & Associates in Cherry Hill."

 

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