Hackett's arraignment before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark came just a few days after former Assemblyman Alfred Steele became the first of the group to plead guilty. Hackett and Steele served in the Assembly together, but both stepped down after their arrests.
Orange Mayor Mims Hackett at a recent meeting.
Hackett, the only one of the officials to be indicted so far, declined to speak to reporters after the court hearing this morning and referred all questions to his attorney, John Azzarello.
"We are anxiously awaiting receipt of the evidence in this case. And we anxiously await Mayor Hackett's trial date so that all of the facts can come out," Azzarello said. "Mayor Hackett is confident that once a jury of his peers hears all of the evidence, he will be vindicated."
A federal grand jury indicted Hackett earlier this month on charges of attempted extortion and bribery. He allegedly accepted a $5,000 bribe from an insurance brokerage firm seeking city contracts in Orange. He also agreed to accept another $25,000 once the city approved the contracts, according to the indictment. The firm turned out to be an FBI front and the conversations were secretly recorded, authorities said.
Azzarello said he was not concerned about Steele's guilty plea on Friday.
Steele's attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Gramiccioni and David Bocian have declined to say whether Steele is cooperating with authorities.
During his guilty plea hearing in Trenton Friday, Steele said that he set up a meeting between the FBI front company and officials from Orange. He did not identity the officials by name, but according to criminal complaints filed in the case, Steele set up meetings between the phony insurance firm and Hackett. During taped conversations, according to the complaints, Steele also said Hackett would be amenable to bribes.
Hackett faces up to 20 years in prison. Under his guilty plea, Steele faces between 37 and 46 months in prison.