Trenton Mayor Tony Mack Facing Corruption Trial
By Dave Warner
Opening arguments were began in the corruption trial of the mayor of New Jersey’s capital city and his brother, both of whom were accused of bribery and extortion after a sting operation involving a parking garage development.
Trenton Mayor Tony Mack and his brother, Ralphiel Mack, have pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they were involved in a 2010 plot to secure the mayor’s help in developing a garage on city-owned land. Prosecutors say an informant offered a $119,000 bribe.
About $54,000 of that amount had been paid, according to prosecutors.
The allegations against the brothers read like a cheap crime thriller, filled with secret meetings and codes names like “Uncle Remus” to refer to corrupt payments. The mayor, not a tall man, was referred to as “the little guy” and “Napoleon.”
Two others have pleaded guilty in the scheme. They are among 40 potential witnesses who may testify against the brothers during the trial in U.S. District Court in Trenton, according to court documents.
One of them, Charles Hall, a former Trenton city official and confidant of the mayor, pleaded guilty in February 2013 to two counts of extortion. The other, steak house owner Joseph Giorgianni who is also known as “The Fat Man” and “JoJo,” pleaded guilty in December 2013 to two counts of extortion.
Prosecutors accused them of trying to conceal their activities by avoiding meetings in City Hall, which is near the federal courthouse, and instead gathering at Giorgianni’s residence, his steak house and restaurants in Atlantic City.
Mack, 48, took office in 2010. He faced a stalled recall effort in 2011, and the City Council has since repeatedly failed in its efforts to cut his $126,000 annual salary by as much as half.