April 14, 2005: In New York State, Vincent Hogan, former administrator of the New
York Racing Authority (NYRA) just received the onerous sentence
of 6 months of home detention for taking part in a complex multi
million dollar income tax fraud. For years more than a dozen
tellers at New York State race tracks juggled cash receipts with
the assistance of Hogan and his predecessor Clement Imperato.
NYRA, a non-profit corporation licensed by the state was let off
the hook of a federal indictment in 2003 due to the agency's
importance to New York State's economy. Though NYRA was fined,
state taxpayers indirectly picked up the tab since NYRA profits
are supposed to go to the state. Tellers took the worst legal
heat. But Clement Imperato did get 4 long months in jail after
pleading guilty to federal charges. And when Vincent Hogan
finishes his 6 months of house arrest he'll be forced to perform
100 grueling hours of community service a year for the next
3 years. A little over 4 days per. That Hogan's sentence is less
draconian than Imperato's, has to do with Hogan's stellar record
as a former NYC cop. Plus the fact that he cooperated with State
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation of NYRA. Spitzer
once characterized NYRA as having a "culture of corruption". The
stern punishment meted out to culture vulture Hogan sends the
message that crime doesn't pay. Hopefully inner city youths
tempted by gangs and drugs will be listening.
Oh-- when news of the NYRA fraud first broke the alleged
involvement of organized crime was mentioned. But those mentions
faded as time passed. Obviously a case of misinformation.
Meanwhile in New Jersey, sewer mogul Jerry Free, who as head rep
for United Gunite Construction bribed his way across the state,
has also been hit with 6 hard months of home confinement. He'll
be wearing the white collar version of a ball and chain-- an
electronic ankle bracelet. Free now lives in Florida where he
deals in real estate and novelty ice cubes. When he goes on his
court permitted excursions to work-related conventions the ankle
bracelet will be a badge of shame. Unless he rolls his cuffs
down. Or unless fellow conventioneers have become so jaded by
the national upswing in ice cube and real estate fraud that
they shrug and say no biggie.
Jerry Free gets around. Originally from Alabama, he had one time
development interests in Nashville, Tennessee. Those who dealt
with United Gunite described Free as a colorful character who
brought a "touch of Las Vegas to the sewer industry". By the late
90's United Gunite had moved big time into Jersey. Where
politicians welcomed Free with open hands. Free was glad to fill
em. Eventually Free's largesse led to trouble with the feds and
as a result, Jerry agreed to wear a wire and catch pols talking
pay-to-play. The second (or is it first?) language of Jersey.
Eventually a number of public servants from Paterson, Irvington
and Camden wound up corruption convicted. Along with Essex County
Republican Executive James Treffinger.*
If Jerry Free had only gotten busy in Jersey he might have gotten
real jail time. But he was also fed friendly elsewhere. Such as
Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, Free posed as a contractor
interested in doing biz with the city. Taking part in a chain of
events that led to the August, 2004 indictment of former Mayor
Bill Campell (D.) for bribery, tax evasion and other corrupt
practices. Campbell's indictment came after 10 former members of
his administration, including several senior aids, had been
convicted on related charges. In Atlanta Free proceeded along
the same lines as in Jersey. Pursuing Empowerment Zone goodies
for his business and receiving the advice of political power
brokers on where to place local and national campaign
contributions. And just like in Jersey, Free wore a wire.
Jerry Free wasn't the only public contractor involved in the
Atlanta investigation. But his assistance as federal mole-man
was apparently valuable enough so that when Free came up for
sentencing on April 12th in Newark, New Jersey, the prosecution
requested the judge go lite.
Though reliance on inner-circle rats in corruption investigations
is often necessary, time-off for good behavior sometimes make the
gorge rise. Consider United Gunite's no bid contracts. How much
quality control does a bribe buy? The sewer work Gunite performed
in the poor and crime ridden city of Camden, New Jersey collapsed
soon after construction. Most of the cities where Free and his
public servant pals cut pay-to-play deals are poor and crime
ridden. Thanks to people like Free & crew crime extends
seamlessly from the streets up through the halls of government.
Speaking of which, this week's corruption catch in Monmouth
County, New Jersey is former Mayor Matthew V. Scannapieco of
Marlboro Township. On April 12th Scannapieco confessed to
accepting bribes for years from a developer who did regular
business with the township. Scannapieco cemented his ability
to deliver by serving on the Marlboro Township planning board
and appointing many of its members. U.S. Attorney Christopher J.
Christie described the overall situation thusly: "Decisions that
literally shaped the landscape and character of a community were
bought and paid for by this mayor and developer.". Due to the
guilty plea, New Jersey acting Governor Richard Codey plans to
fire Matthew Scannapieco from his current job as commissioner of
the state's Victims of Crime Compensation Board. A good thing
too. Conflicts of interest might have arisen when citizens of
Marlboro Township came knocking.
If Scannapieco is sentenced to home detention how will he pass
the time? By playing Monopoly with himself? Or maybe he could
play the electronic ponies on a website run by house bound NYRA
administrator Vince Hogan. Since sewer impresario Jerry Free has
the court's permission to leave home for work related excursions,
he could be lunch bag man for both guys; delivering wings and
pizza and novelty ice cubes.
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
"Do my dreaming and my scheming, lie awake and pray"
In My Room, The Beach Boys, 1963
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
Old American adage
*Jerry Free's Garden State salad days are described more fully in
a 05/07/02 New York Press piece of mine called "Concrete Shoes".
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
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