The massive federal corruption and money laundering investigation that took place in New Jersey last year has seen its second acquittal. A jury decided that former state Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith was declared not guilty of extortion, bribery and money laundering charges on Thursday.
Prosecutors accused the former lawmaker, Smith, of taking $15,000 from a government informer who posed as a developer after his arrest in a fraud case.
Smith's lawyer said his client had intended to return all the money and was duped by an elaborate government sting.
The jury returned the verdict at the end of its second day of deliberations.
According to an Associated Press report in the New York Times, Smith was one of more than 40 people arrested last year in a massive federal corruption and money laundering investigation. About half of the defendants have pleaded guilty and three have been convicted at trial.
In the most recent trial, however, Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez was acquitted on extortion and bribery charges. CBS New York reported in October that Suarez and Guttenberg tax preparer Vincent Tabbachino each faced two extortion counts and one bribery count. Tabbachino was acquitted of conspiracy but convicted on the other counts.
Suarez' acquittal represented the first defeat in a corruption case for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey in over a decade encompassing more than 150 cases.
An Associated Press report in the Courier Post says charges were dropped this month against another defendant, Richard Greene, who testified for the government against Smith.