An Atlantic City businessman and political operative pleaded guilty yesterday to paying $45,000 in bribes to two city councilmen in exchange for their support on business deals and contracts he was seeking with the city.

Edward DiNicolantonio, 70, faces up to 30 months in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines. U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez scheduled sentencing for Aug. 23.

DiNicolantonio's plea, in federal court in Camden, was the latest development in a five-year-old federal corruption investigation in Atlantic City.

Three council members, including the two who accepted cash from DiNicolantonio, pleaded guilty last year and resigned. Another businessman caught in the probe is expected to plead guilty today.

DiNicolantonio, according to the one-count bribery charge to which he pleaded, paid cash to former Council President Craig Callaway and former Councilman Gibb Jones over four years beginning in 2002.

In exchange, prosecutors said, both voted for or supported deals that DiNicolantonio touted as a consultant for companies seeking city contracts.

These included, authorities said, a no-bid $700,000 insurance contract awarded in 2003, a development project at the former Garwood Mills department-store site, and "other matters."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Germano, the prosecutor in the case, declined to provide specifics about those other matters after yesterday's hearing.

DiNicolantonio posted $50,000 bail and was freed pending his sentencing.

A fixture in and around Atlantic City politics for decades, DiNicolantonio had businesses including sportswear, T-shirt and ice cream companies and a consulting firm that did work for casino companies, developers and insurance agencies.

Today, Jones, former Councilman Ramon Rosario, and contractor Terry Jacobs are scheduled to appear before Rodriguez for sentencing. Callaway was sentenced in March to 40 months in prison.

Jacobs is to be sentenced on a cocaine-trafficking charge, but is expected to benefit from a cooperation agreement in which he wore a body wire for the FBI and funneled bribes to Callaway, Jones and Rosario as part of a sting operation.