Anthony J. Christaldi, 69, of Cape May Court House, was indicted by a state grand jury on a charge of second-degree bribery. Christaldi allegedly paid $10,000 as a bribe to an official who handles real estate purchases for the CRDA’s voluntary land bank program in January.
The bribe was an attempt by Christaldi to get a higher purchase price from the agency for his property in Atlantic City. The official immediately reported the alleged crime.
Christaldi contacted the CRDA in January about his desire to sell a property at 204 Atlantic Avenue to the agency for its redevelopment program. He submitted paperwork proposing a $157,500 purchase price, which was rejected by the official involved in the case.
Christaldi, who spoke to the official by phone, told her he would reduce the price to $75,000 and would submit new paperwork seeking an expedited sale.
It is alleged that Christaldi subsequently delivered an envelope to the official containing the required paperwork, along with $1,000 in cash. He also included a note indicating that if a sales price of $105,000 were approved for the lot, representing $30 per square foot, he would pay her an additional $9,000 in cash, or if a price of $40 per square foot were approved, he would pay her $15,000.
The official immediately alerted the legal department of the CRDA, which alerted the Division of Criminal Justice. In a subsequent undercover investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, Christaldi allegedly delivered $9,000 on Jan. 16 to a man who he believed was the brother of the CRDA official, but who in fact was an undercover detective. Detectives stopped Christaldi’s car and arrested him after he left the convenience store where he delivered the cash.
“To prevent official misconduct, we vigorously prosecute not only corrupt public officials, but also those private citizens who try to bribe public servants and solicit corrupt behavior,” Hoffman said. “This defendant allegedly assumed that the official he encountered would shell out more public funds for his benefit, as long as she got a cut. But the official did the right thing by helping us to ensure that the alleged bribe-payer will face justice.”
“Those who seek to bribe public officials pose a serious threat to the integrity of government,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These cases are a top priority for us, and, as here, we will take aggressive investigative action, including undercover action, to detect and prosecute corruption offenses.”
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.