The Jersey Sting
Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin
Everyone in New Jersey was arrested today …
Star-Ledger photographs © The Star-Ledger, Newark
It began in the early-morning hours of Thursday, July 23, 2009.
On a warm day that would turn overcast with scattered rain, climbing to near 80 degrees in the summer humidity, more than 300 FBI and other federal agents were in position across the metropolitan area well before the crack of dawn. Deployed from Brooklyn and Jersey City to the wealthy beachfront enclave of Deal along the Jersey Shore, it was an invasion force about to execute a coordinated assault of military-style precision, a takedown that would shatter New Jersey’s political landscape and reach all the way into the governor’s office, while tearing apart an insular Orthodox religious community that had long shunned outsiders.
Some news organizations had already been tipped off that “something big” was going to happen. In the second-floor newsroom of The Star-Ledger—New Jersey’s largest newspaper—editors were deploying their own army of staff, mostly operating on educated guesswork and cryptic conversations with sources on just where to send them. They knew there were going to be some high-profile arrests and that it was going to be big, but they had no idea just how crazy it was about to get. Something about political corruption and a Brooklyn rabbi, sources had suggested, in a state already well known for its scandals.
Even those who were about to get arrested that morning did not seem to have a clue they would be the next stars of that classic New Jersey ritual: the televised “perp walk.”