N.J. Mayor Milan Surrenders
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ Mayor Milton Milan surrendered to federal authorities Thursday after the release of a federal indictment charging him with bribery, conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and fraud.
As traffic stopped and spectators poured out of office buildings, Milan, lawyer Carlos A. Martir Jr. and a crowd of reporters walked two blocks from City Hall to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Milan insisted he was ``absolutely not guilty″ of any charges and said the case was politically motivated.
The 19-count indictment claims former Philadelphia mob boss Ralph Natale and his associates ``made direct payments of money and other benefits″ to Milan.
It charges that Milan received ``significant personal benefits, including cash, vacation trips, dinners, automobiles and home improvements from people looking to do business with Camden.″
Milan, 37, a first-term Democrat elected in 1997, has been eyed by federal authorities in a wide-ranging investigation of alleged corruption in city government. The grand jury had subpoenaed his payroll records and requested information about political fund-raising.
In recent weeks, the pace of the inquiry quickened as city lawmakers were subpoenaed by the grand jury and questioned about issues including city contracts, organized crime and contractors who performed repairs on Milan’s home.
Milan’s name also was mentioned prominently in the recent federal trial of two men convicted as leaders of a Camden drug ring. Several witnesses claimed Milan sold drugs in Camden in the 1980s and bought several shipments of cocaine before becoming mayor.
The Marine Corps veteran and former contractor was elected to city council in 1995 and became council president a year later. He is the first Hispanic mayor of this desperately poor city of 87,000 on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia.