From the moment the FBI confronted him with evidence he took $14,000 in bribes to help steer contracts to cronies, Atlantic City Councilman Ramon Rosario sang like a bird.
Before he had even hired a lawyer, he admitted what he had done, started implicating others involved in the scheme, and even wore a wire to secretly record conversations for the government.
Yesterday, in federal court in Camden, Rosario, who resigned last summer, was rewarded with a prison sentence that was less than one-third what he could have received. The grocery store owner and Latino community leader was sentenced to five months in federal prison, followed by five months of home detention. He could have gotten 30 months.
So far, three of the nine people who were members of the council a year ago have pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and another council member was charged last week with helping carry out a sex blackmail videotaping of a fellow councilman.
Rosario admitted last fall that he took $14,000 worth of bribes between August 2004 and August 2005. He pleaded guilty to attempted extortion.
He said he did it so that area contractor Terry Jacobs, 42, would be named construction manager at a development site. Jacobs was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
Also sentenced yesterday was former Councilman Gibb R. Jones, 80, who received five years' probation. Jones, who resigned from the council last August, pleaded guilty to extortion. The judge noted his age, ill health - having had two heart surgeries since 2004 - and cooperation he gave the government investigating corruption in Atlantic City.
Jones admitted taking more than $5,000 in 2003 from Atlantic City businessman and political operative Edward J. DiNicolantonio in exchange for his influence in awarding city contracts. *