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Trenton Mayor, Brother, and Associate Indicted on Extortion, Bribery, and Mail and Wire Fraud Charges

This news story was published on December 13, 2012.
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TRENTON—A federal grand jury in Trenton today returned an eight-count indictment charging Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack; his brother, Ralphiel Mack; and Mayor Mack’s close associate, Joseph A. “JoJo” Giorgianni, with extortion, bribery, and mail and wire fraud U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The defendants were indicted in connection with a scheme to accept $119,000 in bribes in exchange for Mayor Mack’s official actions and influence in assisting cooperating witnesses in the development of an automated parking garage on city-owned land.

Tony F. Mack, 46, of Trenton, New Jersey, Giorgianni, 63, of Ewing, New Jersey, and Ralphiel Mack, 40, also of Trenton, originally were charged by complaint on September 10, 2012, with one count of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right related to the $119,000 extortion scheme. The indictment returned today adds the following charges:

  • One count of attempted obstruction of commerce by extortion under the color of official right against Tony F. Mack, Giorgianni, and Ralphiel Mack (count two);
  • One count of accepting and agreeing to accept bribes against Tony F. Mack and Ralphiel Mack (count three);
  • One count of giving and agreeing to give bribes against Giorgianni (count four);
  • Three counts alleging that the defendants devised a scheme to defraud the city of Trenton and its citizens of money and property and of defendant Tony F. Mack’s honest services (counts five to seven);
  • One extortion count charging Giorgianni with participating in an additional scheme of arranging to steer a power washing contract to a city vendor in exchange for a kickback to a Trenton employee (count eight).

According to the indictment and other documents filed in this case:

Mayor Mack and Giorgianni and Ralphiel Mack conspired to accept approximately $119,000 in cash and other valuables, of which $54,000 was accepted and another $65,000 that the defendants planned to accept, from two cooperating witnesses (“CW-1” and “CW-2”). In exchange for the payments, Mayor Mack agreed to, and did, assist CW-1 and CW-2 in their efforts to acquire a city-owned lot (the “East State Street Lot”) to develop an automated parking garage (the “Parking Garage Project”). The scheme included a plan to divert $100,000 of the purchase amount that CW-2 had indicated a willingness to pay to the city of Trenton for lot as a bribe and kickback payment to Giorgianni and Mayor Mack. The mayor authorized and directed a Trenton official responsible for disposition of city-owned land to offer the East State Street Lot to CW-2 for $100,000, significantly less than the amount originally proposed by CW-2.

The defendants went to great lengths to conceal their corrupt activity and keep Mayor Mack “safe” from law enforcement. For example, Giorgianni and Ralphiel Mack acted as intermediaries, or “buffers,” who accepted cash payments for Mayor Mack’s benefit. Mayor Mack also used another city of Trenton employee involved in the scheme (“CC-1”) to contact other Trenton officials to facilitate the Parking Garage Project and to inform the mayor when Giorgianni had received corrupt cash payments.

To conceal the corrupt arrangement, the defendants avoided discussing matters related to the scheme over the telephone. When those matters were discussed, they used code words and aliases. One such code word was “Uncle Remus,” which both Giorgianni and CC-1 regularly used to communicate to Mayor Mack that a corrupt payment had been received. For example, on October 29, 2011, Giorgianni telephoned CC-1 and informed CC-1 that Giorgianni had to “see” Mayor Mack and that “I got Uncle Remus for him,” meaning a corrupt cash payment that Giorgianni had received from CW-1 two days earlier. Giorgianni directed CC-1 to bring Mayor Mack to a meeting location controlled by Giorgianni (“Giorgianni’s Clubhouse”), stating “we gotta talk” because “I got something that might be good for him” and that “they’ve already come with Uncle Remus,” meaning a corrupt cash payment. On June 13, 2012, Giorgianni telephoned Mayor Mack and informed him that “Uncle Remus,” meaning a corrupt cash payment, “was there.” Mayor Mack replied, “I’ll call you, J. Okay?” In text messages to Mayor Mack related to the scheme, Giorgianni would refer to himself only as “Mr. Baker.”

The defendants also concealed their activities by holding meetings concerning the corrupt activity away from Trenton City Hall, including at Giorgianni’s residence, an eatery maintained by Giorgianni known as JoJo’s Steakhouse, Giorgianni’s Clubhouse, and Atlantic City restaurants. At one Atlantic City meeting among Mayor Mack, Giorgianni, CC-1 and CW-2, Mayor Mack instructed Giorgianni to ensure that no photographs were taken in order to conceal the corrupt arrangement.

In addition to the Parking Garage Project-related bribe and extortion payments, count eight of the indictment charges Giorgianni with conspiring with CC-1 to extort a payment from an individual interested in doing business with the city of Trenton. Giorgianni caused the individual to inflate an invoice for power washing services rendered to the city of Trenton by at least approximately $1,500. Using his authority as a city of Trenton employee, CC-1 assisted in obtaining the contract and, once the job was complete, shepherded the invoice through the approval process, causing the city of Trenton to issue the individual a $4,911.30 check.

Giorgianni instructed the individual to remit $1,300 of that money to a JoJo’s Steakhouse employee, which Giorgianni later received. Giorgianni, in turn, provided approximately $500 to CC-1 in Atlantic City for CC-1’s efforts in securing the contract and expediting payment.

The extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion charges in counts one, two, and eight are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The bribery charges in counts three and four are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The mail and wire fraud charges in counts five through seven are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. All of the counts also carry a potential fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the $54,000 in bribes actually received by the defendants related to the Parking Garage Project and the $1,300 kickback received by Giorgianni related to the power washing contract.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton Resident Agency, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to the charge.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric W. Moran and Matthew J. Skahill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Trenton and Camden, respectively.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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