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Hudson County Corruption in the Kenny Era
Memoirs of Hudson County

Originally appeared in Tiger In The Court
By Paul Hoffman

Hudson County Politics

"Everyone said that Jersey City and Hudson County were corrupt and had been for five decades," Stern says. "Everybody said that everybody who worked in Jersey City and Hudson County had to pay off. So we decided to find out whether or not the charges were true."

The method Stern describes as "a pure imposition of scientific technique," developed and perfected in the Colonial, Weber and Addonizio cases.

"The first step was to find out from the businessmen whether they had to pay off. But we didn't know who the businessmen were. The first thing we did was subpoena all the records from the Jersey City Hall and the Hudson County Administration Building for public works for the past five years. From these records we determined who the successful bidders were and we subpoenaed all their records. Then we had teams of accountants and assistants analyzing their records, looking for that one critical thing - the cash coming out."

The first subpoenas were served on May 30, 1970, three days before the Addonizio trial started. Before the case was concluded, the U.S. attorney's office had amassed more than 1,700,000 documents.

The investigators struck pay dirt quickly, getting several contractors to admit that they had kicked back. From them, a pattern of payoffs emerged-on city projects, through Bernard Murphy, Jersey City's purchasing agent; on county ones, through Frank Manning, the Hudson County engineer.

"The biggest break came when Frank Manning was broken," Stern continues. "Unless you're satisfied just getting the low-echelon guy, you have to go to the next level. And the only way you can do that is to persuade the bagman to break. We had a lot of money going in to Murphy, but he never would break."

Manning was the key to the case. A defense lawyer later called him~"the most important single witness in the trial." Unlike most of those under investigation, Manning considered himself a professional, not a political appointee. He'd never relished his role as a bagman and had long sought a way out.

"It came to a sort of showdown in 1969," he said later. "It wasn't until then that I found myself determined to cast everything to the wind and get out if I had to, with or without pension, with or without any employment."

He got out, retiring at age 60 on a $12,000 pension. And he told all, meeting with the authorities at Lacey's summer cottage at Sea Girt, on the Jersey Shore. The fact that Manning was cooperating was kept secret-he even went before the grand jury as "Mr. X" - but Kenny suspected that he was the weak link in the chain.

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