Palmyra Tapes Case Timeline

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SUMMER 2001: Gural cooperates with state investigators, secretly tape-recording conversations with Norcross. Gural claims Norcross promised rewards for Gural if he voted to not reappoint Rosenberg. Norcross denies this.

NOVEMBER 2001: State investigators raid West Deptford municipal offices, searching for records of contracts awarded to JCA.

MARCH 2003: A former JCA employee — William Hampton Jr., the son of a founder of the company — pleads guilty to stealing $360,000 from the firm. Hampton took checks from municipalities and deposited them into his personal account.

DEC. 12, 2003: Three top executives at JCA agree to a plea bargain with the state Attorney General’s Office. The three — Mark Neisser, Henry Chudzinski and William Vukoder — say they will resign from the company and plead guilty to making illegal donations of more than $84,000 to West Deptford Democrats.

FEB. 17, 2004: West Deptford Democratic campaign treasurer Daniel Wilson is found guilty of tampering with public records and failing to report illegal campaign donations by JCA. Wilson is found innocent of charges he stole $28,000 in campaign funds.

MARCH 25, 2004: State Sen. Diane Allen, R-Edgewater Park, calls for an independent investigation of JCA by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

MARCH 26, 2004: Superior Court Judge John Almeida throws out the plea bargain between JCA and Attorney General Peter Harvey. Almeida complains that JCA’s attorney, Kevin Marino, also personally represented Harvey in another ethics case. “The proposed plea agreement is not in the interest of justice,” Almeida said. “It is rejected.”

MARCH 31, 2004: Harvey fires back at Almeida, insisting the judge made “a rather serious error” in dismissing the three guilty pleas.

APRIL 2, 2004: Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, the state Republican chairman, calls for the U.S. attorney, a special prosecutor or a new attorney general to take over the criminal case against JCA.

MAY 1, 2004: The Schools Construction Corp. announces it intends to bar JCA and five of its top officers from working on the state’s school construction program for five years.

JUNE 8, 2004: Two months after rejecting a similar deal, Almeida agrees to a plea bargain involving the three former JCA executives. Almeida says circumstances have changed enough to convince him there was “no valid reason” to reject or delay a plea. Under terms of the deal, Neisser, Chudzinski and Vukoder will plead guilty to income tax evasion stemming from the campaign law infraction in West Deptford.

FEB. 25, 2005: Superior Court Assignment Judge John Sweeney orders that 330 hours of secret recordings of conversations between Gural and South Jersey power brokers, including Norcross, be released by the state within 15 days. Rosenberg, who filed a lawsuit to have the recordings released by state criminal investigators, said they will show “blatant examples of criminal behavior,” including Norcross attempting to bribe him. Norcross’ attorney, William Tambussi, said the recordings include just two conversations with his client and that state investigators have already found no evidence of wrongdoing.

APRIL 1, 2005: In the first series of released recordings, Norcross is heard denigrating a host of fellow Democrats, bragging about his influence with former Gov. James E. McGreevey and then-U.S. Sen. Jon S. Corzine, and describing the judiciary as a place to “get rid” of troublesome people. Tambussi says the tapes show Norcross to be a “tough fighter” for his party and South Jersey, and that “Mr. Gural and Mr. Rosenberg invented, fabricated and lied in all their wild accusations.”

JUNE 1, 2005: About 60 hours of new recordings are released. In one recording made in 2001, R. Louis Gallagher, then the chairman of the Burlington County Democratic Party, is heard telling Gural he should get a reward for agreeing to fire Rosenberg as borough solicitor at the behest of Norcross.

JUNE 27, 2005: A newly released tape shows that in July 2001, Norcross went to a high-ranking official in the Attorney General’s Office and asked that the investigation into allegations of political corruption in South Jersey be killed. “I’m not a thief. I’m not a crook. I can sleep at night,” Norcross told Anthony Zarrillo, then deputy director of the attorney general’s Division of Criminal Justice. “The only thing I have to worry about is a prosecutor or investigator who has an evil agenda.”

JULY 6, 2005: U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher Christie says his office is “fully investigating” the Palmyra tapes case.

WEDNESDAY: Christie announces the federal government would not be able to prosecute Norcross even if he broke the law because the state Attorney General’s Office botched its investigation.

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