Category Archives: Public Corruption

Cooper Hospital

Listing Cooper’s Board Deals Companies Associated With The Hospital’s Trustees Have Gotten Some Of Its Largest Contracts

By Maureen Graham and Frederick Cusick (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Cooper Hospital Releases Report Citing $18.8 Million In Fraud

by Frederick Cusick and Maureen Graham (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Business Owner Pleads: Thomas J. Damadio Said He Helped Cooper Hospital Executives Launder Stolen Money

By Larry Lewis (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Cooper Hospital Fined in Medicare Fraud Case

By Roslyn Rudolph (Philadelphia Enquirer)

Cooper Health System Pays $12.6 Million To Resolve False Claims Lawsuit Over Kickbacks Paid To Referring Physicians

PR Newswire

The Troubles at Cooper Continue, Part 1: Historical Background

by Roy M. Poses, M.D. (Health Care Renewal)

The Troubles at Cooper Continue, Part 2: Since 2005

by Roy M. Poses, M.D. (Health Care Renewal)

Powerful Medicine: How George Norcross Used His political Muscle to Pump Up Once-Ailing Cooper Hospital

by James Osborne and Craig R. McCoy (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Christie’s Chief of Staff Headed to Cooper Hospital Job

by Maddie Hanna and Andrew Seidman (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Christie Signs Bill Giving EMS contract to Hospital Chaired by Power Broker Norcross

By Susan K. Livio (NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

N.J., Christie Sued Over Law that Allows Just Three Paramedic Providers Statewide

by Jared Shelly (Philadelphia Magazine)

Kathryn Bolkovac: The Whistleblower

When former Nebraska police officer Kathryn Bolkovac was recruited by DynCorp International to support the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, she thought she was signing up to help rebuild a war-torn country. But once she arrived in Sarajevo, as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit, she discovered military officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution, with links to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was successively demoted, threatened with bodily harm, fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness—bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, publicly exposing their human rights violations. Her story, recounted in the book The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice, later become the Hollywood feature film The Whistleblower. Bolkovac discusses her story, human trafficking, and other topics with Tanya Domi, whose reporting broke this story.

RT News: Camden

After decades of public corruption in Camden, New Jersey, the city announced it could no longer afford its own police force and would reduce costs by ending its collective bargaining agreement with the police union. Despite statements by Mayor Dana Redd and Police Chief Scott Thompson that the only way to “put more boots on the ground” was to reduce salaries, Camden announced that it would only be rehiring half of the former officers as part of the new county police force. The new department will be prohibited from unionizing and the qualifications for new applicants were lowered by placing a one year moratorium on civil service testing.

George Norcross: Tales Dubbed “Bogeyman” Bunk are Rooted in Reality (2011)

Brian Donohue with Ledger Live examines how the battle over the pension and benefits reform bill passed by the New Jersey legislature raised questions about the influence of South Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross. Assertions by Norcross ally Sen. Steve Sweeney that Norcross plays little role in the legislative process contrast sharply with Norcross’ own words, as captured in 2001 recordings made as part of a state attorney general’s office investigation.

Bryant’s first public words: ‘Not guilty’

After his latest court appearance in Trenton yesterday, State Sen. Wayne R. Bryant gave his characteristic blank stare to reporters asking him about the charges of fraud and political corruption facing him.

But for the judge, he lodged his first public statement on the matter.

He pleaded not guilty.

Bryant, who was indicted March 29 while on vacation in Mexico, has been charged with using his influence to collect three no-show jobs with public bodies that nearly tripled the value of his pension.

MORE COVERAGE

During yesterday’s 20-minute, largely procedural hearing in federal court, the Camden Democrat was placed under oath before answering questions about his educational background and whether he had taken any alcohol or drugs that would prevent him from understanding the proceedings.

Bryant, 59, then waived the reading of the indictment against him and entered his plea. A trial date was set for Jan. 28.

Defense lawyers said they expected to review “voluminous” amounts of evidence in the case, and the judge set several dates for filing motions and conferences on the case’s progress.

Bryant’s co-defendant, R. Michael Gallagher, went through the same process and also entered a not-guilty plea. Gallagher, former dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, has been charged with helping get Bryant a no-show job at the school.

He is also charged in a separate fraud scheme to pay himself bonuses. Gallagher, 59, resigned from his position in 2006.

Bryant, the former head of the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, is accused of steering millions of dollars to the osteopathic school after getting his $35,000-a-year, part-time job there.

He also held positions at Rutgers University-Camden and the Gloucester County Board of Social Services, two jobs in which prosecutors said Bryant did little or no work. He held all three jobs, as well as his seat in the Senate, from 2003 to 2005, the last three years before Bryant would have been eligible for his public pension.

In those three years, he increased the value of his pension from $28,000 to $81,000, prosecutors said.

By the time the trial date arrives, Bryant will have left behind his 30-year career in public life. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection.
Original Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/nj/20070410_Bryants_first_public_words__Not_guilty.html#v5xFc3w5YkW96oCQ.99

Former New Jersey State Senator Wayne R. Bryant and Attorney Eric D. Wisler Indicted on Corruption Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office

September 27, 2010

 

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Acting United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, MICHAEL B. WARD, the Special Agent in Charge for the New Jersey Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and VICTOR W. LESSOFF, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (“IRS-CID”), announced today an Indictment charging former New Jersey State Senator WAYNE R. BRYANT and attorney ERIC D. WISLER with multiple counts of fraud and bribery.

According to the Indictment filed today in Newark federal court:

BRYANT was a State Senator representing New Jersey’s 5th District, which included Camden, and served as Chairman of the Senate’s Budget and Appropriations Committee. BRYANT also was a named, equity partner at a law firm in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. WISLER was a named, equity partner at a law firm in Teaneck, New Jersey. Among WISLER’s clients was a private equity investment firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a management firm that undertook several “brownfields,” redevelopment projects in New Jersey by which contaminated land was to be made suitable for development.

In 2004, WISLER arranged for his firm to enter into a retainer agreement with BRYANT’s firm, which called for BRYANT’s firm to be paid a retainer fee of $8,000 per month. The payment was purportedly to cover fees for legal work relating to land use, condemnation, and other matters for a development project in the New Jersey Meadowlands. In truth and in fact, however, the payments made under the retainer agreement were actually bribes paid in exchange for official action that BRYANT took in favor of the various redevelopment projects undertaken by WISLER and his clients, including a proposed $1.2 billion redevelopment of Camden’s Cramer Hill neighborhood, which sat in BRYANT’s legislative district. BRYANT rendered his approval and support for this project despite significant backlash among his constituents regarding the use of eminent domain and relocation of residents in that neighborhood. BRYANT also expressed support for funding from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Camden’s Economic Recovery Board, whose function was to allocate $175 million in funding that Camden received under the 2002 Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act (“MRERA”), which BRYANT sponsored.

BRYANT provided a consistent vote for legislation that was favorable to WISLER’s clients, such as a 2004 amendment to the Redevelopment Area Bond Financing Law that facilitated bond financing for the Meadowlands project, appropriations legislation by which the Meadowlands project received more than $200 million in loans from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (“NJEIT”) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”), and “fast-track” legislation that required the NJDEP and other state agencies to expedite their review of applications for permits or have those permits deemed granted. BRYANT also sponsored a bill in 2005 for a $112 million loan from NJEIT to be used for the Meadowlands project.

BRYANT’s firm was paid approximately $192,000 in fees between August 2004 and August 2006. However, no actual legal work was performed under the retainer agreement. No attorneys at BRYANT’s firm performed any services under the retainer agreement, and no attorneys at WISLER’s firm interacted with attorneys of BRYANT’s firm with respect to the Meadowlands Project.

According to the Indictment, both WISLER and BRYANT took steps to conceal the existence of the retainer agreement. Despite working extensively with colleagues at his law firm on a variety of matters pertaining to the Cramer Hill and Meadowlands developments, WISLER failed to inform any of them about the existence of the retainer agreement. WISLER specifically drafted the retainer agreement to be for work on certain phases of the project for which the invoices were not reviewed by the public agencies that loaned money to the project. BRYANT failed to inform Camden’s Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) of the retainer agreement, despite his friendship with the COO and regularly interacting with the COO on matters regarding Cramer Hill.

In addition, the Indictment alleges that WISLER and BRYANT caused false invoices to be drafted that fraudulently indicated that BRYANT’s firm was performing legal services under the retainer agreement. These invoices formed the basis for false and fraudulent billings to the Raleigh investment firm by which it paid the retainer fees to BRYANT’s firm through WISLER’s firm.

The Indictment charges BRYANT and WISLER with twenty counts of honest services mail fraud and one count of receiving bribes. It charges BRYANT with extorting payments under color of official right. It also charges WISLER with 17 counts of mail and wire fraud in connection with the false and fraudulent billings to his client. If convicted, BRYANT and WISLER face a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for each count, except for the receiving bribes charge, for which each faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. The Indictment also seeks the forfeiture of the approximately $192,000 in illicit payments made to BRYANT.

This investigation is being supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York due to the recusal of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. PREET BHARARA was named Acting United States Attorney for the case under Title 28, United States Code, Section 515.

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS in this case. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Labor and Public Safety, and the Criminal Investigators assigned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for their outstanding work.

This case is being supervised by the Public Corruption Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Assistant U.S. Attorneys JAMES B. NOBILE, BRADLEY A. HARSCH and JENNY R. KRAMER of the Special Prosecutions Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, are in charge of the prosecution.

Original Source: https://www.fbi.gov/newark/press-releases/2010/nk092710.htm

Camden Parking Authority Probed

By KIM MAIALETTI
Courier-Post Staff
CAMDEN

The city’s Parking Authority received a subpoena from the state Division of Criminal Justice Wednesday, less than a week after two agency employees filed a civil lawsuit that alleged financial mismanagement and bid rigging.

A division spokeswoman refused to comment on the nature of the subpoena, saying only that the authority is being investigated.

The authority’s executive director, Anthony Scarduzio, said he had heard about the subpoena from his receptionist, but had not seen it.

Scarduzio is off from work this week because his niece and his great-nephew died in an arson fire in Gloucester Township Sunday.

“We’ll give them whatever they want,” Scarduzio said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We’re anxious to cooperate.”

Carmen Otero, chairwoman of the Parking Authority Commission, said she was unaware a subpoena had been issued.

The authority’s lawyer, Carlos Morcate, did not return phone messages.

The Parking Authority is an independent city agency that oversees and operates two garages, 10 lots and 800 meters.

The five-member commission is appointed by the mayor and city council.

On Friday, authority employees Thomas Del Rosario and Joseph Bowen filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Camden claiming they suffered retaliation for blowing the whistle on what they say is illegal activity within the agency.

Bowen, a property manager, was fired in August. Del Rosario, a systems specialist, was suspended without pay pending a hearing.

The far-reaching lawsuit includes accusations that Scarduzio tipped off a favored vendor about another vendor’ s low bid in exchange for box seats to sporting events.

It also alleges Scarduzio looked the other way when Bowen complained about another employee skimming money off parking meter collections.

Scarduzio has described the suit as insider bickering and said Bowen is in fact the one who tried to steer business to his personal associates.

The Parking Authority had seemed to be back on track after spending years under the state’s watch because of corruption and mismanagement.

In 1993, it went $1 million into debt, which forced the state to take it over in September 1994. The state handed over control to the city in 1997.

 

Ex-Camden official found dead; whistle-blower shot and beaten

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

By KIM MAIALETTI, TIM ZATZARINY and GENE VERNACCHIO
Courier-Post Staff

The former director of the Camden Parking Authority, Anthony Scarduzio, was found dead Monday at a friend’s Monroe home of a gunshot wound to the head, just days before the state was to bring criminal charges against him. A 12-gauge shotgun was found at his side.

About the same time, an authority whistle-blower who had accused Scarduzio of corruption lay critically wounded outside an ice cream parlor 2.5 miles away in Washington Township. He had been shot several times and beaten with a baseball bat.

Gloucester County Prosecutor Andrew Yurick said the shootings of Scarduzio, 47, and former Parking Authority employee Joseph Bowen, 50, were related but that the sequence of events was unclear.

“I can’t tell you what happened when,” Yurick said at a news conference five hours after the shootings.

Authorities said they were investigating whether Scarduzio assaulted Bowen, then committed suicide. A neighbor of the ice cream shop, which was leased by Bowen to another operator, said Bowen told police Scarduzio had shot him.

The shootings were reported within minutes of each other about 10 a.m. The prosecutor’s office and county dispatch gave conflicting accounts of which call was received first.

Bowen was in critical condition late Monday at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden. Doctors were able to stabilize the gunshot wounds, but the beating to his head left him with a fractured skull and brain contusion, said Bill Bowe, Bowen’s attorney.

Police had stepped up patrols around Bowen’s home in the Sewell section of Washington Township after he was notified in May that threats had been made against him by Scarduzio and others, authorities said. He was also under police protection at the hospital, Bowe said.

Asked about his reaction to the shootings, Scarduzio’s brother, Jack, said: “I never thought he had the guts do do something like that.” He did not elaborate, saying only that when his brother made up his mind to do something, he did it.

Scarduzio took a buyout and resigned from the Parking Authority on May 31 while a target of a state criminal investigation.

“Our investigation into the Camden Parking Authority, the portion involving Mr. Scarduzio, was going to be completed imminently,” said Emily Hornaday, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Criminal Justice. “He was looking at a significant charge, there’s no doubt about it, and I’m sure he knew that.”

Scarduzio was facing one or more charges of official misconduct, Hornaday said.

Bowen, a property manager, was fired from the Parking Authority last August. He and a co-worker sued Scarduzio and the authority two months later, accusing them of bid- rigging, money laundering and mismanagement. Bowen was to give a sworn statement in the lawsuit Thursday.

Bowen was attacked while outside the former Casablanca Ice Cream parlor on Hurffville-Cross Keys Road; the shop was renamed Aaron’s Ice Cream by a tenant who now runs the business. Bowen operated a landscaping business and kept his equipment in three trailers in a field behind the ice cream parlor.

Warren Plank, 47, who lives next to the store in another property owned by Bowen, said he was working in an office at the front of his house when Bowen banged on his back door about 10 a.m.

“As soon as I got to the kitchen, I could see he was bloody,” Plank said. “He said, `I’ve been shot.'”

Bowen lay down on a chaise lounge on the back deck while Plank called 9-1-1. He said Bowen had two bullet holes in his left shoulder and had blood dripping down his face.

Bowen told officers that Scarduzio had attacked him, Plank said. Bowen also told police, Plank said, that he wrested a gun away from Scarduzio and threw it out of his reach.

But a police source said late Monday that no gun was found at the scene, and that search warrants had been issued for Scarduzio’s Scotch Drive home in the Turnersville section of Washington Township, and for the house where Scarduzio’s body was found.

Scarduzio was discovered just inside the front door of the home of Butch and Edna D’Alessandro at 1965 Pitman- Downer Road by the couple’s son, Anthony, who had come to mow the lawn. Anthony’s 5-year-old son was with him.

Yurick confirmed the couple were not home at the time. They were at the nearby Whitman Diner when they received a frantic call from their son.

The elder D’Alessandro said he did not know why Scarduzio was in his home. “I don’t have the slightest idea,” he said.

The elder D’Alessandro said he always kept a loaded shotgun by the back door, as well as four or five other loaded guns elsewhere in the house.

“Everyone here knows we have guns,” D’Alessandro said.

Scarduzio, a friend, would occasionally stop by for a visit, D’Alessandro said. Both were former Democratic committeemen.

A family spokesman, attorney Mike Fritz, said Scarduzio appeared to have broken the window in the rear door to enter the house. But Yurick said investigators had not yet determined how Scarduzio got in.

The D’Alessandros sat outside their home for hours as officers secured the crime scene.

Authorities towed Scarduzio’s maroon Buick from the D’ Alessandro residence.

In a written statement to police, Anthony D’Alessandro offered to have his hands tested for gunshot residue and gave a voluntary taped statement. Fritz said Anthony D’ Alessandro did not enter the home after finding his way blocked by a body.

Anthony D’Alessandro said he knew by the size of the hands that the victim was not one of his parents.

Said Fritz: “Clearly what has occurred is a burglary and suicide in the aftermath of a shooting where the motive is easily identifiable.”

Scarduzio is survived by his wife, Janet, and two sons, Christopher and Matthew.

Former Mayor Jerry Luongo was friends with Scarduzio for about 20 years and has known Bowen for at least six years.

He said he was shocked by the shootings because Scarduzio and Bowen were once best friends.

“They were inseparable,” Luongo said.

According to Luongo, Scarduzio helped Bowen get a job with the Parking Authority when Bowen’s ice cream shop was struggling financially. Luongo said he had lunch with Scarduzio at The Pub in Pennsauken about a month ago. During their meal, they talked about Scarduzio’s problems at the Parking Authority.

“He said, `You know, Jerry, I’m just going to put this behind me,'” Luongo recalled. “I can’t believe he reached this level of frustration.”

In 1996, Bowen offered the township advice on how to run the struggling concession stand at Washington Lake Park, Luongo said.

“Joe gave me a lot of insight,” Luongo said. “I had a good rapport with him.”

Scarduzio ran unsuccessfully for the township council as a Democrat in 1996. He also was a former member of the township planning board.

Hornaday, of the Division of Criminal Justice, said the state’s investigation of Scarduzio was not based on Bowen’s lawsuit.

She also said the Parking Authority investigation would continue.

“Law enforcement takes no pleasure in this,” Hornaday said. “It’s turned out to be a very, very tragic situation.”

Milton Milan sentenced to 7 years

Saturday, June 16, 2001

By FRANK KUMMER, RENEE WINKLER and KATHY MATHESON
Courier-Post Staff

CAMDEN

His voice cracking with emotion, former mayor Milton Milan apologized Friday for betraying the trust of city residents before an unsympathetic federal judge who sentenced him to more than seven years in prison.

“People believed in me and trusted in me. I let them down. I’m sorry to them, to my family and to my children,” Milan said as his wife wept in the gallery.

U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano was unsparing as he castigated Milan for taking mob payoffs, using city contractors to perform free work on his home, laundering money from a drug dealer, committing insurance fraud, using vehicles supplied for free by a towing contractor and selling a stolen computer to an intern.

Milan, the judge said, was “more enamored of the trappings of the office than his duties.”

Because of that, Milan deserved no special consideration, the judge said.

“Your conduct was pervasive,” Pisano said. “It was common knowledge in the city that Mr. Milan’s influence was available. It is self-evident that a dishonest mayor undermines the confidence of the public.”

The judge gave Milan seven years and three months in prison, the maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines. He bumped up the sentence proposed by the probation department after agreeing with Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Futcher that the ex-mayor had damaged the public’s confidence in their government.

Milan could be released in less than six years. He will get credit for time served since his Dec. 21 conviction, and defendants can be released after serving 85 percent of their term if they do not violate any rules.

The judge spared Milan a fine, saying he had no ability to pay. But he found him responsible for $14,761 in restitution to three victims who sought it – a towing contractor, an insurance company and a leasing company.

Milan will remain under court supervision for three years after release. State officials have already permanently barred him from seeking public office again.

Milan became Camden’s first Hispanic mayor on July 1, 1997, a relative political newcomer who convinced voters he could turn the city around. His sentencing comes with the city still in a financial crisis and the state considering a takeover of government operations.

The former mayor appeared in court thinner and paler than when he was removed from office. He wore a white, prison- issued T-shirt, khaki pants and blue slip-on sneakers.

“I’d like to apologize to the residents of the city of Camden for my very poor judgment,” Milan said, the closest he has come to admitting guilt.

After Milan’s brief statement, the judge recounted the former mayor’s list of crimes and spoke at length about why he was giving Milan the maximum sentence.

“When you took office, there was no question that Camden was a city of great despair,” the judge said. “But the people believed in you. Your own people believed you. You squandered your opportunities. The people of this city do have a problem, but they do not deserve to be the laughingstock of urban America … you’ve made them that.”

Over the last decade, the city lost 9 percent of its population, dropping to 79,904 residents. The number of vacant houses also soared during the period, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development lists the city as the nation’s second-poorest. The state funds 70 cents of every dollar in Camden’s budget.

Pisano told Milan he came into office with great promise ” but violated every oath ofoffice.”

“It appears to me that it was your purpose to achieve personal aggrandizement,” he said.

“You are a remarkable individual, at least you were,” Pisano said, recalling Milan’s rise from a one-parent family living on a blighted North Camden street.

“You had a job as the mayor of the city. You had a salary of $75,000, a driver and a car,” Pisano continued. “You now have nothing.”

After sentencing, Milan was returned to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fairton, Cumberland County, where he has been held since his conviction. It will be up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to determine whether he serves out his term there or at a correctional facility at Fort Dix.

Milan was indicted March 29, 2000, by a federal grand jury in Camden. A jury convicted him of 14 of 19 counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, making him the third Camden mayor in 20 years to be found guilty of corruption.

The jury found, among other things, that he accepted as much as $30,000 in payoffs from former Philadelphia/South Jersey mob boss Ralph Natale between 1996 and 1998; laundered a $65,000 cash loan in 1994 from now-convicted drug dealer Jose “JR” Rivera; used part of $7,500 he skimmed from campaign funds to pay for a trip to Puerto Rico with friends and supporters in 1997; and staged a burglary at his business, Atlas Contracting, in 1995 to collect insurance money.

Milan was stripped of his office the day after his conviction.

His court-appointed attorney, Richard Coughlin, asked Pisano on Friday to set aside two of his client’s convictions. The judge turned down therequests.

A pre-sentence report recommended a maximum sentence of 67 months, or five years, seven months. But prosecutors got it bumped up 20 months, to 87 months, by arguing that Milan had abused the public trust and damaged the city.

“The defendant decided that his greed was more important than his duties to the citizens,” said Futcher.

Milan grew up in a tough neighborhood on Bailey Street in North Camden, where homes were as likely to be abandoned as lived in and drug dealers flanked street corners.

He dropped out of high school and eventually entered the Marines, where he learned to operate heavy machinery, became a marksman, went to Beirut, and earned an honorable discharge. He returned home to Camden in the mid-1980s and began hanging around with felons and drug dealers.

He started two construction companies and was elected to city council in 1995. He rose quickly in political ranks and was named council president on Jan. 1, 1996. He was already taking bribes from Natale.

In May 1997, he was elected mayor after a brash campaign that was tainted with accusations that he had been affiliated with Rivera and had been questioned in a 1988 gangland slaying.

Despite those questions, Milan took a firm grip on the city’s helm. In July 1999, he rocked Trenton when he had the city file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, until stopping the proceeding when the state agreed to pay $74 million in aid it had been holding. While the move scored him points in some quarters, it hurt the city’s financial reputation, scaring off investors.

As mayor, Milan lived in a nicely rehabilitated home on North 33rd Street in East Camden. It turned out that much of the work was performed for free by vendors working on or seeking government contracts.

Milan’s name began surfacing in connection with separate federal investigations of Rivera, the drug lord, and Natale, the Mafia boss. Both were key witnesses at his trial.

On Aug. 16, 1999, federal and county agents raided Milan’s home and office, carting away boxes of materials in search of evidence.

Throughout the investigation, Milan maintained his innocence, complaining he was being politically persecuted.

Ex-Prosecutors in Trenton Respond to U.S. Scolding

Two former New Jersey attorneys general on Thursday defended their office’s investigation into the political dealings of George E. Norcross III, the Democratic power broker, and said they were bewildered that federal prosecutors had accused them of botching the case.In a scathing letter dated Tuesday, Christopher J. Christie, the United States attorney for New Jersey, wrote that his office would be unable to bring charges against Mr. Norcross because lawyers for the state attorney general had mishandled their investigation under two administrations before turning it over to his office in 2004.

Mr. Christie’s pointed critique startled many in the legal community because prosecutors rarely publicly criticize other law enforcement officials or explain their decisions not to prosecute.

While Mr. Christie did not release the letter to the press, his office did give it to two witnesses whose complaints against Mr. Norcross led to the investigation, and who have been aggressive in seeking news coverage about the case.

In his six-page letter, Mr. Christie chastised state officials for failing to use rudimentary investigative techniques like wiretaps and telephone records to corroborate their suspicions that Mr. Norcross and his political allies were engaged in a plot to deprive two political rivals of jobs and government contracts.

His letter also harshly criticized state prosecutors for deciding not to secretly tape conversations at a Camden County Democratic fund-raiser in 2001, where Mr. Norcross and his associates were expected to discuss a wide variety of political deals. Mr. Christie said that that decision was so inexplicable that it raised the possibility that state investigators were trying to shield political figures.

But John J. Farmer Jr., who was attorney general in 2001, called that suggestion ”utter nonsense.” Mr. Farmer said he was not personally involved in the tactical decisions, but asserted that the two assistant attorneys general who led the case were ”professional and 100 percent nonpolitical.”

”I totally reject any suggestion that any political figure was being protected by anyone in my office,” said Mr. Farmer, a political independent who worked for Govs. Christine Todd Whitman and Donald T. DiFrancesco, both Republicans.

Mr. Christie also said that former Attorney General Peter C. Harvey erred in 2003 when he agreed to allow two figures in the investigation to plead guilty to tax evasion charges, a deal Mr. Christie said was too lenient to yield meaningful cooperation.

But Mr. Harvey said the agreements were fair and helpful. ”These plea agreements were negotiated by experienced former federal prosecutors and helped lead to other convictions in this case,” he said.

The investigation and secret recordings of Mr. Norcross, a bank executive whose prowess as a fund-raiser has given him vast statewide influence, has offered a rare view of the inner workings of New Jersey’s tough, money-driven politics.

The case began in 2000, when John Gural, now the mayor of Palmyra but then a councilman, told the authorities that he had been pressured to fire the town solicitor, Ted Rosenberg, who had opposed one of Mr. Norcross’s allies in a local political race.

Investigators from the state attorney general’s office asked Mr. Gural to wear a concealed recording device. He ended up taping more than 330 hours of conversations, many of them with local officials allied with Mr. Norcross. In some of those conversations, they threatened to withhold government contracts from Mr. Gural’s employer, a local engineering firm, unless he acquiesced.

Mr. Norcross was also caught on tape boasting about his influence with then-Gov. James E. McGreevey and then United States Senator Jon S. Corzine.

Mr. Norcross’s lawyer dismissed his client’s taped comments as idle boasts, and said that Mr. Christie’s letter was proof that no crime had been committed.

Mr. Rosenberg said on Thursday that Mr. Christie, who has been mentioned as a candidate for governor himself, might have released the letter to protect his image as an ardent corruption buster.

”Chris Christie is first and foremost a political animal,” Mr. Rosenberg said. ”He gave us the letter and didn’t say anything about keeping it private, so of course we gave it to the media. The way he handled this he was freed of any responsibility for letting George Norcross get off of the hook.”

But in an interview on Thursday, Mr. Christie said he was proud of his record. Since being appointed United States attorney in 2002, he said he had brought public corruption charges against nearly 100 people. He said he felt that the attorney general’s office deserved a detailed explanation of why he was not pursing charges, since Mr. Harvey publicly referred the case to him in 2003
.

“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis