Ronald Manzo, who was former Secaucus mayor Dennis Elwell’s co-defendant until Manzo cut a deal and pleaded guilty last month, is slated to be the first witness for the government as Elwell heads to trial June 20, a shift in strategy as the star witness, Solomon Dwek, was recently arrested on a new criminal charge, eSecaucus.com has learned.
Manzo is replacing Dwek at the outset of the prosecution’s case, according to a letter from Elwell’s legal team to Judge Jose Linares dated Fri., June 17, which said Dwek was arrested on a new criminal charge out of Baltimore, Md., following a warrant dated May 31.
Attorneys Thomas Cammarata and Jeffrey Garrigan have asked Linares to compel the U.S. Probation Dept. to release pre-sentence reports and other documents in connection with Manzo’s prior criminal convictions. The lawyers said they intend to address Manzo’s record in the trial.
Elwell’s attorneys said they were made aware of the key witness change on Friday, June 17. They said prosecutors told them that Dwek is currently “under investigation.”
It’s unclear whether Dwek’s recent arrest will damage his credibility on the witness stand. Prosecutors have indicated that key evidence against Elwell is in the form of audio recordings.
Elwell’s attorneys said in asking the judge for Manzo’s records on short notice that the Elwell case presents at least the second time Manzo has entered into a cooperation agreement with the government after committing criminal acts.
Manzo was charged with corruption alongside Elwell. He pleaded guilty in May and admitted to acting as a middleman between Dwek and the former mayor. Manzo faces from 12 to 18 months in prison and will have to pay $42,500. A charge he faced with his brother, Louis, was dropped.