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11 week bribery trial ends in 5 hours July 30, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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My heart goes out to Robin Lord.  She’s a great attorney.  After 11 long weeks of trial, her client, John Fiore was convicted  after just 5 hours of deliberations.  In my opinion, that tells me that it wasn’t even close which just has to kill you as an attorney.  There is no way that a jury can give serious consideration to 11 weeks of testimony in just 5 hours.  While I did not follow the trial, those two numbers alone tell me that most of the jury probably convicted him a few weeks ago.  Thus, this may have been a situation where, for whatever reason, there is little an attorney can do and no one could have done better. 

Press release:

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni announced that John Fiore, former executive vice president of the East Windsor Police Athletic League, was convicted at trial today of official misconduct and bribery for steering a PAL construction contract to a contractor who built a deck at his home free of charge.

According to Director Gramiccioni, Fiore, 63, of Allentown, was convicted by a Mercer County jury of conspiracy, bribery and official misconduct, all second-degree offenses. The verdict followed an 11-week trial before Superior Court Judge Mitchell Ostrer. The jury deliberated for five hours over a two-day period. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine. Judge Ostrer scheduled Fiore’s sentencing for Oct. 13.

Assistant Attorney General Lewis Korngut conducted the trial for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The charges stem from an investigation by the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor within the Division of Criminal Justice.

“This defendant selfishly and corruptly used his public position within the PAL for his personal gain,” Attorney General Milgram said. “Today’s verdict sends a loud message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated.”

The jury found that Fiore, a retired East Windsor police officer, used his position as an officer on the Board of Directors of the East Windsor PAL to steer a contract to Jeffrey Nemes to build the PAL a combined concession stand and administration building on Airport Road in East Windsor. The jury found that, in return for Fiore influencing the Board of Directors to hire Nemes’ company, Nemes built a $12,000 deck, free of charge, at Fiore’s former home in Washington Township, Mercer County.

The state’s investigation revealed a conspiracy among Fiore, Nemes and a third man, Marc Rossi, to arrange for Nemes Construction Company to get the contract and overcharge the East Windsor PAL for the project. The PAL paid Nemes a total of $274,046, which was at least $90,000 more than what the building should have cost. Rossi received $5,000 for his role in arranging the deal between Fiore, the East Windsor PAL, and Nemes Construction Company.

The investigation was conducted and coordinated by Lt. Robert Stemmer, Civil Investigator Joseph Salvatore, Analyst Paula Carter, Deputy Attorney General Asha Vaghela and Assistant Attorney General Lewis Korngut. Stemmer and Salvatore were formerly assigned to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor but now are assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

“This verdict is a tribute to the superb hard work and dedication of the Division of Criminal Justice’s investigative and trial teams,” Director Gramiccioni said. “Today’s conviction marks the conclusion of a 10-year investigation in which 12 people were convicted, resulting in seven people being sent to New Jersey State Prison.”

In March, Nemes, 43, of Hamilton, pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting he built the $8,000 deck for Fiore in return for the PAL contract. The judge ordered Nemes to pay $8,000 in restitution to the East Windsor PAL and imposed a five-year state prison sentence, concurrent to an eight-year sentence he was already serving on a 2007 bribery conviction obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice.

Rossi pleaded guilty to theft in 2003 in connection with the $5,000 payment involving the PAL. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Nemes, a former Hamilton Township police officer, was convicted at trial in 2007 of offering two Hamilton Township fire chiefs up to $500 and other rewards if they would delay fire suppression and increase damage at fire scenes so as to increase potential profits for Nemes’ company and an insurance adjustment firm owned by Rossi. That conviction led to his prior eight-year state prison sentence. Assistant Attorney General Korngut also represented the state in that trial.

In addition, Nemes pleaded guilty in March to theft for stealing insurance money from four fire victims who hired him for repairs that he never completed. For that charge, Nemes received a concurrent jail sentence and was ordered to pay $74,472 in restitution.

Rossi pleaded guilty in 2003 to bribery and operating an “arson-for-profit” insurance fraud scheme. Rossi admitted to intentionally setting at least six fires in the Trenton area in 1999 so his public insurance adjustment business would be hired to adjust the insurance claims. Rossi was sentenced to eight years in prison and was ordered to pay $542,853 in restitution and a $50,000 insurance fraud fine.

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