Jersey City reveals what was inside mysterious safes

Tim Fleischer reports on what was inside from Jersey City.
December 17, 2013 3:15:08 PM PST
There's no more mystery about what was inside two safes that sat locked for decades in the mayor's office in Jersey City's municipal building.

The gossip and whispers, through City Hall in Jersey City, conjured up all sorts of things that could be hiding in the small safes, discovered in a larger fault in the mayor's office.

Was it money, ill gotten gains, lists of political patronage?

"We have no record of it being opened since, like, 1949," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Mayor Fulop's curiousity, though, would get the best of him, figuring the only way to know is to open them up.

"This room was filled with boxes and storage. This was covered, so were curious," he said.

The mayor brought in Elaad Israeli from Precision Lock Safe to crack the combinations. The larger safe, a little stubborn.

"So I had to pull out a couple of more tricks out of my bag to get it to go," said Israeli.

It's believed that Mayor Frank Hague, in his 30-year reign, had the safes installed.

He was known, locals reveal, for his boss-style patronage. Mayor Fulop says even Hague's desk carried that to extremes.

"His desk had a drawer that would extend from his side," said Fulop. "He would press a button and the drawer would extend to the other side where someone would drop the money into and would retract back. His mantra was that he never took the money directly."

So your mind can't help but envision all sorts of things squirreled inside, even though several of the still living former mayors had no interest in finding out.

"Some people were less curious. Some might not have known it was there. It was literally buried in clutter over there," said Fulop.

With a firm grip on the unknown, the mayor opened safe number 1, and was as surprised as everyone, to find only an extension cord.

And clearly not one from Hague's turn of the century rule. Did someone get here first? Now the breathless hope turned to safe number 2.

Calling it 'a Geraldo moment', Fulop opened it, and found: absolutely nothing. Empty as the promises of a corrupt politician.

"We thought it would be fun, considering we've had so many mayors arrested and go to jail, and the colorful history. Unfortunately there is no hidden treasure today," said Fulop.

A vault in Chicago's Lexington Hotel linked to Al Capone was opened during a live Geraldo Rivera TV special in 1986. The vault was empty save for a few bottles and a sign.