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Indicted N.J. mayor resigns after 3 weeks on job

NJ Corruption Arrests
Joined by his wife and daughter, Peter Cammarano is sworn in on July 1 as the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., by U.S. District Court Judge Katharine Hayden. Reena Rose Sibayan / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Mayor Peter Cammarano III resigned on Friday, a week after vowing to stay in office and fight federal corruption charges against him.

Cammarano, who took office just three weeks ago following a runoff election, was snared last week in a sweeping federal corruption probe that resulted in the arrests of 44 people, including rabbis and dozens of public officials.

The 32-year-old — Hoboken's youngest mayor — sent a letter to the city clerk on Friday saying his resignation was effective at noon.

"I apologize to the residents of Hoboken for the disruption and disappointment this case has caused," he said in the letter.

Cammarano, an election-law attorney, is accused of accepting $25,000 in bribes in exchange for help on a purported high-rise building project in the city. He is the second elected official to resign in the wake of the arrests.

In his letter and through his attorney, he reiterated his innocence and said he still intends to fight the charges.

"It became clear in the past six or seven days that, given the controversy surrounding his case, he could not perform his duties," said Cammarano attorney Joseph Hayden. "It was injurious to Hoboken government for him to stay in there, not to mention the fact that the controversy was a burden on his family."

Gov. Jon Corzine had praised Cammarano as a rising star in the Democratic Party. But that turned to disgust after Cammarano's arrest and Corzine announced on Thursday that the mayor would resign.

Special election in November
City Council President Dawn Zimmer, who lost a June 10 runoff election to Cammarano by 161 votes, was being sworn in as acting mayor Friday. A special election will be held in November to fill the remainder of Cammarano's term.

Cammarano's arrest came at a tough time for Hoboken, which has become a bedroom community of sorts for Manhattan professionals. Financial industry layoffs have hit the city hard, flooding the real-estate market with homes for sale or rent.

Residents seemed relieved Cammarano is leaving office. Many have protested outside the mayor's home and at City Hall with signs that said "Shame on You" and "Resign."

Dinorah Vargas, 50, a lifelong Hoboken resident, said she didn't vote for Cammarano and was hopeful his resignation would be the start of reform in the one-square-mile waterfront town that served as the setting for "On the Waterfront," the 1954 Marlon Brando film about crookedness on the docks.

"I'm glad it's over. We have to move forward, and I think it's going to be a different city," said Vargas, who didn't vote for Cammarano.

Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, who was among those arrested in the corruption sweep, resigned earlier this week.