Who’s Cheating America: Zip-A-Dee-Doo…D’Oh!

Oh man. The nicknames for bribe money continue. Last time it was thanks to some lovers of literature. This time, our corrupt officials are apparently Disney fans. Old-school Disney fans. As in, old-school pretty ugly more-or-less-racist Disney fans:

According to prosecutors, the investigation revealed Mayor Mack colluded with Trenton sandwich shop owner Joseph “JoJo” Giorgianni, former municipal worker Charles Hall III, his brother Ralphiel and the late Lemuel Blackburn, a disbarred attorney, to funnel Mayor Mack bribe money from a federal informant posing as a developer interested in building a municipal garage.

Say it ain’t so, JoJo! And why oh why didn’t you come up with something more believable?

Moran played short excerpts from the wiretap evidence, many of which were from phone calls between Mayor Mack and Giorgianni. The excerpts were played to remind jurors of Giorgianni’s repeated use of the words “Uncle Remus” — not because of a shared love of “Song of the South,” the 1946 Disney film featuring the character, but as a code word Giorgianni used to let Mack know a bribe payment was pending his instruction.

“I gotta see you, Uncle Remus is coming by,” Giorgianni said to Mayor Mack in one portion. “Whenever you have time, I’ve gotta see you.”

Mack replied: “OK, baby.”

Nobody actually has an Uncle Remus! Is there a worse code name? (“Ben Franklin” maybe?)

The prosecutor pounced:

“What was Tony Mack’s reaction?” Moran said, following the excerpt. “Not ‘Joe, why are you saying that to me? Who is this person? What you talking about Joe?’ No. ‘OK, baby,’ and that was it.”

Mack didn’t do himself any favors:

Just minutes after leaving the meeting, Moran said, the illicit funds were “burning a hole” in Mack’s pocket, and the wiretap audio reveals the mayor making a call to his local tax assessor’s office to find out its preferred form of payment for a $6,000 lien against his home.

You want fifties or hundreds? I got hundreds right now. Fifties – I’ll need to stop at the bank.

I also like how this one expanded. First, it was cash for a good price…

The mayor is accused of accepting the bribe money, then selling the “developer” city-owned land on the cheap. The land was valued at $272,000, and the “developer” agreed to pay $200,000 for it in exchange for a bribe, authorities said.

…and then they went straight for the whole enchilada:

Giorgianni and Tony Mack eventually agreed that the land would be sold for $100,000 and that they would keep the remaining $100,000, according to prosecutors.

Wonderful feeling, wonderful day, yes sir!

Previous entries in our Who’s Cheating America? series:

Who’s Cheating America: Lovers of Literature!

Okay, okay. Government procurement officials have been corrupt since the beginning of time. It happens everywhere; America is no exception. Stories like this one

A Utah federal judge sentenced a former U.S. Department of Defense procurement official involved in an alleged bribery and fraud scheme with foreign military aircraft purchases to 24 months in prison, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

…hardly raise eyebrows. $185,000 to tip off government contractors and to give them favorable treatment? Ho-hum.

But details like THIS one certainly fire the synapses:

Mendez and Sylvester Zugrav allegedly used code names, covert email addresses and password-protected computer documents to conceal the scheme. In the secret communications, Mendez was called “Chuco” and Sylvester Zugrav used the name “Jugo,” while cash was referred to as “literature,” according to the DOJ.

Oh boy! I love this idea. Maybe something like this?

“Dear Chuco, the lowest bid on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is $180 million dollars. As you may recall, I am a great lover of literature. Please send me ALL of my literature via FedEx as soon as you can. Love, Jugo.”

What would the response be?

“Dear Jugo, Thank you for the information. We have submitted our bid at $170 million. Could you please place our contract on the top of the pile? By the way, we recall how much you LOVE literature. We have sent via FedEx one hundred and eighty-five thousand pieces of literature. The literature is unmarked and in small, easy-to-read denominations.”

The two will now have 15 to 24 months in the “library” to think about their crime.

Previous entries in our Who’s Cheating America? series: