RIDGEFIELD, NJ (WCBS 880/ 1010 WINS/ AP) — The fate of a northern New Jersey mayor arrested in last summer’s corruption sting is in the hands of voters.

Ridgefield residents are going to the polls Tuesday to determine whether to recall Mayor Anthony Suarez in a special election. One of three candidates on the ballot would replace Suarez as mayor if he’s recalled.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports on a town divided
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports

“I think it’s going to be a close election but I think most people are going to recognize that the American way and American tradition is that you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Steve Pallino, who lead the drive to keep Suarez in office and even sued to try to stop the recall election, said. “He deserves to serve out the term he was elected to unless and until he’s convicted of anything.”

Suarez was one of 44 people arrested in the federal sting that was the largest corruption bust in state history.

Prosecutors allege Guttenberg tax preparer Vincent Tabbachino took $10,000 from a federal informant posing as a corrupt developer and converted it into a check for a legal defense fund set up for Suarez. In exchange, the men allegedly promised the informant help with building permits.

“He deserves his day in court, never for a moment would I ever believe that he’s guilty of this,” Gabriel, a Ridgefield resident said.

“The recall committee, since I got into office, they’ve been highly motivated to get me out of office,” Suarez told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “I’m just happy to see a lot of people that I don’t even know how often they were engaged in the election process but tuned in to this because they didn’t think what was happening was the right thing.”

Former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, III was recently sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the corruption scandal.

Suarez will go to trial in October.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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