NEWARK, NJ - Former Bloomfield Councilman Elias Chalet was sentenced to five years in prison today. He will be eligible for parole after serving two years.
Chalet was indicted by a grand jury on January 29, 2016 for allegedly soliciting a $15,000 bribe. At the time, he was formally accused of promising a business owner that he would use his place on the Bloomfield Township Council to ensure that Bloomfield would continue its planned purchase of a commercial property.The business owner promptly reported this to the New Jersey State Police, and the state commenced its investigation.
In May of 2017, Chalet pleaded guilty to one count in connection with his bribery case. The state dismissed four counts because they could not be proven.
“Corrupt officials like Chalet undermine public trust and good government,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “We will not tolerate elected officials who are willing to sell their influence – and sell out their constituents – for an envelope of cash.”
“We are committed to seeking tough sentences for public officials who engage in this type of misconduct,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge anyone with information about public corruption to contact us confidentially, as the businessman in this case did, so we can investigate these crimes and aggressively prosecute those responsible.”
“Chalet abused his position by soliciting a bribe and undermining his role as an elected official,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This prison sentence is a result of the hard work by the State Police Official Corruption North Unit and Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure trust is maintained with public officials.”
The bribe payments were made at Chalet’s real estate office. Chalet accepted the first cash payment of $10,000 from the business owner on Oct. 23, 2015. Chalet was arrested on Nov. 16, 2015 at his real estate office after he accepted the remaining $5,000 in cash from the business owner. Those meetings also were recorded. The vote on the purchase of the business property was scheduled for the day Chalet was arrested. He was arrested before the vote.
When the New Jersey State Police moved to arrest Chalet minutes after he accepted the final cash payment of $5,000, Chalet remained locked in his real estate office for approximately 45 minutes, refusing to respond to a detective who repeatedly knocked on the door and a window of the office.
Relatives of Chalet approached detectives at the scene and tried to reach Chalet on his cell phone. They reported that Chalet was in the bathroom. It is believed that Chalet flushed the $5,000 in cash down the toilet to prevent State Police detectives from finding it when they searched his office after his arrest.