A former New Jersey state assemblyman is the alleged co-conspirator in a bribery and kickback scheme involving Newark city councilman Joseph McCallum and real estate investor Malik A. Frederick, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Carmelo Garcia, a Hoboken Democrat who served in the legislature form 2014 to 2016, is co-conspirator #2 in a criminal complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Garcia, 45, served as the executive vice president of the Newark Community and Economic Development Corporation from 2016 to 2017, and as Newark’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development from 2017 to 2018.
Garcia allegedly conspired with McCallum and Frederick in the kickback scheme that saw Frederick solicit bribes in exchange for aiding developers and others win municipal contracts or other projects in the city.
McCallum, a West Ward councilman, was charged on Tuesday. Frederick pleaded guilty earlier that day.
The filing says Garcia received these bribes less frequently than McCallum, though it charges he also sought to illegally leverage his position to aid developers that made illegal payments to Global City Strategies or sought to prevent them from such winning contracts or other business from the city if they refused to pay Frederick’s consulting firm.
The court document says Garcia, then at the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, instructed Frederick to meet with representatives from a modular home company in April 2017. During that meeting, authorities say, Frederick offered the consulting firm’s services, stressing its connections to Newark officials, in exchange for roughly $250,000.
The company refused, and Frederick lowered the proposed bribe to $40,000, adding that Garcia “basically worked” for him. The firm did not outright refuse the second bribe, though its representatives told authorities they did not intend to pay Frederick anything.
After learning the modular home company did not intend to pay Global City Strategies, he told the company’s business associate that it would receive no contract. An Economic Development Corporation employee later told the business associate the public body decided to seek other offers, adding the firm’s contract wouldn’t be sent to the board.
Garcia served as head of the Hoboken Housing Authority until battling with then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer in 2014. He was fired by the commissioners.
Hudson Democrats refused to back Garcia for re-election and then lost a race for Hoboken city council. He was ousted from his Newark post in 2018.
Garcia is currently the executive director of the Irvington Housing Authority.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a 12:45 PM email seeking comment.
Garcia did not answer his cell phone at 2:21 PM. He did quickly respond by text message, but has not immediately commented on being co-conspirator #2.
It’s not immediately clear if Garcia is a cooperating witness for the government on this complaint, or in any other investigations.