Freeholder Hector Lora appointed interim mayor after Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleads guilty to bribery

A Passaic freeholder has been appointed interim mayor after former Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to bribery and agreed to resign.

Hector Lora took the oath of office during an emergency Thursday night city public meeting.

Blanco admitted Thursday to accepting $110,000 in bribes from two developers in exchange for directing federal housing funds to a failed low-income housing project.

Blanco is the second consecutive mayor to resign after admitting to bribery, and city residents say that the issue is coming from within the city. Some residents took issue with Passaic City Council President Gary Schaer, who appointed Lora and Blanco before him.

"If Gary Schaer is appointing these mayors brought up on charges of corruption, why would I want a mayor appointed by Gary Schaer?" asked one resident during the meeting.

Schaer says that he understands where the citizens are coming from, but thinks that Lora will do a great job as mayor.

"I think the frustration is understandable. This is not the first time that we have had criminal activity in the great city of Passaic," Schaer says.

News 12 New Jersey asked Schaer if he knew about this bribery incident. He says that he heard rumors about it, but that it was not confirmed until Thursday.

Residents say they cannot trust the current City Council and that it gives Passaic a bad name.

"This is only the beginning. The City Council, everyone responsible for corruption in this city," says frustrated resident Thomas Figueroa.

Lora will serve as city mayor until the next election in May.

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