NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The federal trial of a northern New Jersey mayor hasn’t reached opening statements yet, and already a dispute has dominated the courtroom.

Defense attorneys for Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez claim the government “cherry-picked” evidence when it failed to save all text messages between an informant and FBI agents during last year’s corruption and money laundering sting.

The informant, failed real estate speculator Solomon Dwek, made thousands of texts to agents before, during and after meetings with public officials. The government says many weren’t saved because of limited space on the FBI’s servers.

The dispute delayed opening statements Monday.

Suarez and tax preparer Vincent Tabbachino face extortion and bribery charges.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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