Callaway Pleads Guilty
Yesterday in Camden's Federal Court, before Judge Joseph Rodriguez, Craig Callaway pleaded guilty to bribery charges and resigned from his position as president of Atlantic City's City Council immediately after the hearing. Specifically, Callaway pleaded guilty to one count of "attempted extortion under color of official right," in violation of a federal law. A plea agreement states that, with Callaway's guilty plea and his acceptance of the terms of the plea agreement, and otherwise compliance with all of the terms of the agreement, the United States Prosecutor's Office will not initiate any further criminal charges against Callaway for accepting corrupt payments from about December 2003 to January 2005, from individuals not identified in the agreement.
Sentencing for Callaway will take place in the same courtroom on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 10am. According to the agreement, based on the fact that Callaway has clearly demonstrated a recognition and affirmative acceptance of personal responsibility for the offense charged, and his entering of a guilty plea, thereby permitting the United States to avoid preparing for trial and permitting the court to allocate its resources efficiently, and since the defendant has no criminal history, this corresponds to a sentencing range of 30 to 37 months.
The United States Attorney also recommends that there be no more than a three-year supervised release after the expiration of his jail term. Judge Rodriguez will have the final say on the term of incarceration. He stated that it depends on the probation office's pre-sentencing evaluation, Callaway's cooperation with law enforcement officials and the judge's interpretation of all the reports and recommendations on the case.
The charges against Callaway are based upon the following court information: "1. a. He served as a member and President of City Council; b. The City of Atlantic City conducted business that affected interstate commerce; c. An undercover FBI posed as a "Wall Street Financier" and investor who claimed to be involved in many interstate construction projects, and who was backing an Atlantic City area contractor who was interested in obtaining development and construction work in Atlantic City d. the City Council was interested in developing a 6.4-acre waterfront site on the northeast inlet of Atlantic City commonly referred to as the Garwood Mills site."
The information continues: "At various times in or about 2003, the contractor informed the undercover FBI agent that he had obtained Atlantic City development projects by paying bribes to public officials. On or about Dec. 17, 2003, the contractor asked the undercover FBI agent for $10,000 to give to defendant Craig Callaway in return for his official support for the contractor to become the construction manager or general contractor in connection with Garwood Mill's development. On or about the above date, Callaway did knowingly and willfully accept the approximately $10,000 to exercise official action and influence to assist the contractor relating to the development of Garwood Mills."
Also pleading guilty in court on Wednesday were Terry Jacobs, a local contractor, to one count with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and Ali Sloan El, a Camden County councilman, who was charged with attempted extortion under color of official right. All three wore wires to provide the FBI agents with information of illegal activities. This is not the end of the investigation. There are more who will be brought into Court Room 5D of the Camden Federal Building within the next few weeks.
What was the biggest good news story that came out of the fourth annual Atlantic City Air Show? Let's see. It drew 600,000 people to Atlantic City for one of the best air shows ever held in any city in the United States.
Yes, that is one story. But there was no good news story reported of how well the planning committee prepared for the large crowd and handled the few medical problems that came up in an efficient manner. There was no good news story on the efficient way the show was handled by the air traffic control officials at AC International Airport. There was no good news story on how the the Atlantic City Regional Chamber of Commerce and their presenting sponsor, the Borgata Casino Hotel Spa, and the other show sponsors, provided the necessary funding to make this one of the few free air shows in the nation. And, how the chamber was able to gather over 800 volunteers who handled a variety of different necessary jobs, from security to information.
There was no good news story on how the state and local police, fire and emergency departments proved their efficiency with the manner in which they carried out their duties.
All of these are good news stories, but two other extraordinary stories have not received any press either and, to me, they're outstanding stories. Both stories -- if properly publicized -- would go a long way in showing the quality of the planning of the show and the demeanor of the people who came to see it.
First, with 600,000 people in attendance, one would think that there would be a number of problems that would necessitate police action. Big crowds draw pickpockets and other vermin. According to Atlantic City Police Chief John Mooney, however, there was not one complaint of an illegal act by any of those in attendance on the beach or Boardwalk.
The other good news story came from Norman Draper, an Atlantic City lifeguard who had been on the beach for 43 years. He called the radio show at 5:35pm, on the day of the air show, and related that within two hours of the completion of the show the Atlantic City beach was clean. He said it was mostly the crowd that picked up their papers and leftovers and dumped them in the receptacles that were available, or put them in bags and piled them alongside the receptacles. This is indicative of the type of caring people who were in attendance for this outstanding event. These are my top two good news stories that deserve recognition as few would have believed them happening here, or anywhere else for that matter.
Pinky's Corner airs Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm on News Talk WOND-AM 1400. His TV show, WMGM Presents Pinky, airs Saturday at 7:30pm on TV40. Pinky's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.