Former Hoboken City Council President Christopher Campos was among four charged this past week with allegedly committing bank and wire fraud in order to perpetuate a $7 million car loan scheme in New York City, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced late on Wednesday.
Campos – who is currently a lawyer in Fort Lee – served as a councilman in the mile-square city between 2001 and 2007 before losing a heated election to now-Mayor Dawn Zimmer. In 2014 he served as a $35,000-$40,000-per-year full-time aide to former Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia.
At a meeting Thursday night to discuss the southwest redevelopment plan, Mayor Dawn Zimmer declined to comment on the charges.
“I’m just as shocked as a lot of people.” – Councilman Ruben Ramos
Bharara and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the FBI, announced the unsealing of the complaint charging Campos on Wednesday, March 9. Also charged were Julio Alvarez, Marco Blasio, and Geuris Ramos. (Councilman Ramos said that Geuris Ramos is of no relation, and that he doesn’t know the other men.)
“The charges announced today describe a scheme in which the defendants allegedly benefitted from fraudulently obtained car loans,” said Rodriguez in a statement. “The funding was used by the defendants and their co-conspirators to finance the purchase of more than 200 new automobiles.”
The press release says that the defendants allegedly made false representations that “straw buyers” were purchasing the cars for personal use, “when, in fact, the defendants obtained the vehicles in order to lease them to livery cab drivers.”
The deeds apparently occurred in 2012 and 2013 but officials are still investigating.
Just before the 2007 campaign against Zimmer, Campos was arrested in Manhattan after running a red light on the West Side Highway and was charged with driving under the influence. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to a lesser (violation) charge of driving while impaired. In 2010, he filed suit against the both the Hoboken and New York City police departments for allegedly conspiring to discredit him, but the suit was dismissed by a judge.
Christopher Campos and Carmelo Garcia did not return phone calls or emails by press time on Friday.