Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Attorney for New Jersey’
Friday, March 12th, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

A former New Jersey lawmaker on Monday will release information about alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the handling of a public corruption case, The Hudson Reporter of New Jersey reported Friday.

In July 2009, 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — were arrested on charges of of public corruption and money laundering. The Associated Press reported last year that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had opened an internal investigation into comments made by then acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra at a news conference announcing the sting case.

Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo, who was among those arrested, said that on Monday he will hold a press conference at which he will present “evidence documenting issues of prosecution misconduct in the Bid Rig III investigation and prosecution,” according to a news release from Manzo.

Last week, Manzo told the newspaper that his evidence relates to campaign donations to then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie from attorneys working on the sting. Christie was waging what turned out to be a successful campaign for governor. According to the newspaper, the case ultimately benefited Christie’s campaign.

This post has been updated since it was first posted.

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

A former federal prosecutor who was charged with arranging the murder of a federal witness in a drug case will not face the death penalty if convicted, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

In May 2009, New Jersey defense attorney Paul Bergrin was arrested in connection with a 14-count racketeering indictment.  Bergrin is a former Essex County assistant prosecutor, the DOJ said. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1985-1990.

The charges included arranging the murder of a witness. The case was brought in New Jersey by then-acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, who is now the office’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Federal prosecutors say Bergrin used threats, bribes and murder to discourage witnesses from testifying. In addition, Bergrin passed the name of an informant to associates of a client in a drug case. The informant was fatally shot in Newark, N.J., in 2004.

The decision not to seek the death penalty in the case was made by Attorney General Eric Holder, according to the AP. The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office run by Paul Fishman did not comment on the decision.

Lawrence Lustberg, one of Bergrin’s attorneys, told the Asbury Park Press, “Obviously, he’s relieved.”

“He still recognizes that while the death penalty is off the table, his life is on the line. If he is convicted of a number of these allegations, he could spend the rest of his life in prison,” Lustberg added.

In an unrelated case in October 2009, Bergrin was sentenced to time served in connection with running a Manhattan brothel.

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Marc Larkins speaks after Gov. Chris Christie announces his nomination. (gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named Marc Larkins to be the executive director of the New Jersey School Development Authority Board, according to a news release.

Larkins is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who has held a number of positions in the office since he joined in 2003. He has served as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, Acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Acting Executive U.S. Attorney and council. In addition, he has been the chief of the government fraud unit.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Larkins was a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Division from 1999 to March 2003. Simultaneously, from February 2000 to March 2002, Larkins was Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Christie, who was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey from 2002-2008, had already named eight of his former colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office.
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office.
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel.
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel.
  • Charles McKenna to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
  • Michele Brown to be appointments counsel.
  • Lee Solomon to be the president of the board of public utilities.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie (gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named Lee Solomon to be the president of the board of public utilities, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports.

Solomon, who currently is a state Superior Court judge in Camden County, was a Deputy U.S. Attorney under Christie, running the prosecutor’s offices in Camden and Trenton. He previously was a Camden County Freeholder, a state assemblyman, 1992 GOP congressional candidate and Camden County prosecutor. Christie was the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002-2008.

During the news conference at which Christie announced Solomon’s new post, the governor praised Solomon’s judgment and people skills, adding that he had sought proven managers for his cabinet because “a lot of state government has been dysfunctional,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Christie has already named seven of his former colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office.
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office.
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel.
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel.
  • Charles McKenna to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
  • Michele Brown to be appointments counsel.
Friday, January 15th, 2010

Michele Brown (McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie on Friday said he will name former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown to be appointments counsel in his administration, The Associated Press reported. Brown, who was one of Christie’s assistants when he ran the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office, resigned from her job as acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney in August amid several campaign-related controversies.

When he was U.S. Attorney, Christie took out a second mortgage on his home to loan Brown $46,000, but failed the report the information on his financial disclosures and tax returns. Brown also came under fire by the campaign of Christie’s opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine (D), for working to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request that concerned her and Christie’s travel records.

The FOIA records revealed that Christie exceeded his government lodging allowance when traveling as U.S. Attorney, often staying in luxury hotels, and that he approved Brown’s requests to stay in some of the same five-star hotels as he.

In addition, the New York Times reported that Brown assisted the Christie campaign by delaying the U.S. Attorney office’s response to the Corzine campaign’s FOIA requests. As a result, then-interim U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra came under pressure from unnamed Justice Department officials to remove Brown from collecting records for the campaign’s request, the Times reported.

Brown resigned shortly thereafter to take a job at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.

Christie has already named six of his former colleagues from his U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office,
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office,
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office,
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel,
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel and
  • Charles McKenna, to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Friday, January 8th, 2010

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) today announced that he will name he will name several more staffers from his U.S. Attorney’s office to his cabinet, NewJerseyNewsroom.com reports.

Robert Hanna (Gibbons P.C.)

Christie has tapped Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office. Hanna, the director of the Newark, N.J. law-firm, Gibbons PC, previously was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 16 years.

Stephen Taylor (Taylor, Colicchio & Silverman, LLP)

In addition, Stephen Taylor will be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office. Taylor, who has worked in the Essex County prosecutor’s office, also has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, N.J. He has served as chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and as chief of the Terrorism Unit.

Deborah Gramiccioni (gov)

The governor-elect also has selected Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.  Gramiccioni, who is the outgoing state Criminal Justice director, previously was the assistant chief of the fraud section in the criminal division and chief of the Commercial Crimes United in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, N.J.

Christie has already tapped three of his former subordinates from the U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration – Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who will be Christie’s chief counsel; Kevin M. O’Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel; and Charles McKenna, who will head the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Chris Christie (Gov)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) this afternoon plans to announce that he will name another former colleague from his U.S. Attorney’s office to his cabinet, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports. Christie has already tapped two of his former subordinates from the U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration – Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who will be Christie’s chief counsel, and Kevin M. O’Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel.

Christie has selected Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna to head the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, The Star-Ledger reports. The position does not require state Senate confirmation. McKenna currently is the chief of the criminal division in the New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney’s office and served as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for much of Christie’s tenure as U.S. Attorney from 2002 to 2008.

Christie will be sworn in as governor on Jan. 19.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
The former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is under fire as he runs for governor.

Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R)

If New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) in fact had been considering appointing his controversial ally from the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey, Ralph Marra, to be state attorney general, as previous reports indicated, he’s decided against it.

Christie will name Essex County, N.J., prosecutor Paula Dow (D) to the post today, The Associated Press reports. The New Jersey attorney general is an appointed position, not elected, but requires confirmation by the state Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Marra recently returned to his First Assistant U.S. Attorney position after serving as acting U.S. Attorney, a post he assumed in December when Christie resigned to run for governor. Yesterday, Obama administration appointee Paul Fishman was sworn in as the state’s new U.S. Attorney.

During the campaign, Marra’s office was criticized by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine’s campaign for foot-dragging on Freedom of Information Act requests about Christie’s tenure. In addition, the Justice Department launched an ethics probe of Marra for remarks he made at a news conference about a major public corruption sweep Chrthat Democrats said were intended to boost Christie politically.

Paula Dow (gov)

Paula Dow (gov)

Dow previously worked with Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s office, serving as counsel to the U.S. Attorney and working in the special prosecutions division and the criminal division. She was in the office from 1994 to 2003. Before joining the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office, Dow worked in the Southern District of New York’s office from 1987 to 1994 and for Exxon for seven years.

Christie has already tapped two of his former subordinates from the U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration - Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who will be Christie’s chief counsel, and Kevin M. O’Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel.

PolitickerNJ reports the former New Jersey U.S. Attorney will also appoint three other prosecutors to top posts. They are:

- Phillip Kwon, a deputy chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as first assistant attorney general

- Marc Ferzan, a deputy chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s office, as executive assistant attorney general

- Carolyn Murray, first assistant prosecutor in Essex County, N.J., as counsel to the attorney general.

UPDATE:  Christie during a noontime press conference made the nominations official, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports. In addition, the newspaper reports that Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Guadagno will also serve as secretary of state in the Christie administration. The lieutenant governor, which is a new position in New Jersey, may serve in duel roles in the administration except for attorney general. Guadagno was the deputy chief of the corruption unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1990 to 1998.

Friday, December 4th, 2009
Chris Christie (Christie for Governor)

Chris Christie (Christie for Governor)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie will not have to testify in the trial of North Bergen Internet radio host and blogger Hal Turner, The Associated Press reports.

The defense subpoenaed the former U.S. Attorney to testify on behalf of Turner, who is charged with threatening federal judges in Chicago by posting an entry on his Web site saying three federal judges there “deserved to be killed” for a ruling they made in a lawsuit.

Turner has expressed anti-semitic and anti-black sentiment on his Web site and radio show. In 2007, he said: “I am looking for volunteers from the Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazis and Skinheads to join me in Baltimore this weekend for some good old vigilante justice,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Turner maintains he was trained by the FBI and worked with them for six years to flush out radicals in an effort to prevent terrorism. However, according to Turner’s attorney, Michael Orozco, the stint ended in 2008 when hackers broke into Turner’s radio show Web site server and accessed e-mail exchanges between Turner and the FBI.

In the affidavit supporting the subpoena, Orozco claims that Christie knew that Turner was working with the FBI, gave legal advice to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force regarding Turner and issued a “Blanket Letter of Declination,” refusing to prosecute Turner.

Hal Turner

Hal Turner

Although the defense had subpoenaed Christie, it later decided not to call any witnesses in the case. The trial was moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., following a change-of-venue request, The AP reports. Closing arguments were scheduled for Friday. If convicted, Turner could be sentenced with up to 10 years in prison, according to The AP.

Neither Christie nor federal authorities commented on whether Turner was an FBI informant, The AP reports.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Chris Christie (Gov)

Chris Christie (Gov)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) has tapped two of his former subordinates from the U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration, a New Jersey newspaper reports. Christie on Thursday announced four senior staff members including Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who will be Christie’s chief counsel, and Kevin M. O’Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel.

Jeffrey S. Chiesa (Wolff & Samson)

Jeffrey S. Chiesa (Wolff & Samson)

Chiesa worked in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office from 2002 until earlier this year, when he left to join Wolff & Samson in New York. While in the office, headed by Christie, Chiesa served in multiple roles including the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and chief of the public protection unit. O’Dowd is currently working as a prosecutor in the office, according to The Courier-Post newspaper of South New Jersey.

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Also, although Christie has not made an official announcement, another former U.S. Attorney’s Office colleague, Ralph Marra, reportedly is his pick for attorney general. The New Jersey attorney general is an appointed position, not elected. Christie’s controversial ally Marra recently returned to his First Assistant U.S. Attorney position after serving as acting U.S. Attorney, a post he assumed in December 2008 when Christie resigned to run for governor.

Also due to join the Christie administration when he is sworn in next January will be former state Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger as chief of staff and Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien as deputy chief of staff, the newspaper reports.