The Abscam Scandal
The real Abscam scandal began as a sting operation by the FBI. Concerned about
white-collar crime - and eventually about political corruption - the FBI's John
Good and Anthony Amoroso worked with a con artist, Mel Weinberg, to create a
sting operation. Weinberg and the FBI created a phony company, headed by a fake
Arab sheik, for the purposes of offering bribes to officials in exchange for
"It didn't take long for us to become convinced of Mel's capability," says Good.
"He dedicated himself to it. I wouldn't even call him an informant; he acted
beyond the scope of an informant just furnishing information. He was
participating in the undercover operation. He was a con man, but he had a good
heart, and there was a streak of integrity in him - and he committed to a
legitimate operation and was able to accomplish something on the right side of
Weinberg became the star witness in the FBI's cases against six members of the
US House of Representatives and one US Senator, who were convicted of various
charges in the scandal. In addition, other local government officials were
convicted, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey.
"I thought the mayor was a really nice guy," says Amoroso. "I mean his first
interest was helping himself - but he was also looking to help Camden, New
Jersey. There was this one time we were in Atlantic City and some drunk walking
around the boardwalk happened to approach him. This guy wasn't even a
constituent of the mayor's, but he spent ten minutes talking to the guy. That's
just the kind of guy the mayor was. In this job, there are guys that you can't
wait to lock up and other guys you're sorry to see them go down. The mayor was
that kind of guy - sorry to see him go down, but that's my job."
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