Trenton Mayor Sentenced to 58 Months in Prison on Federal Extortion, Bribery, and Mail and Wire Fraud Charges
TRENTON, NJ—Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack was sentenced today to 58 months in prison after being convicted at trial in February on all six federal extortion, bribery, and mail and wire fraud charges against him, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Mack’s brother, Ralphiel Mack, who was also convicted on three of the charges but found not guilty on three mail fraud and wire fraud counts, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The Macks had been convicted following a five-week trial before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp, who imposed the sentences today in Trenton federal court.
The Macks were charged in connection with a scheme to accept $119,000 in bribes in exchange for Mayor Mack’s official actions and influence in assisting cooperating witnesses in the development of an automated parking garage on city-owned land.
“Nearly four years ago, Tony Mack raised his hand and swore to uphold the state and federal constitutions as he assumed the office of mayor of the capital city of New Jersey,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Within 10 weeks, he began selling that office and, with the help of his brother and others, he sold out the people of Trenton in the process. Today, he learned the true cost of his actions: He will spend 58 months in federal prison.”
“Instead of providing transparent government to the citizens of Trenton, Tony Mack and his brother allowed themselves to succumb to self-interest and greed,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford said. “This investigation brought to light the unsavory underworld of secret meetings with convicted felons, the calculated use of ‘buffers’ and bagmen, and bribe payments associated with inside deals to give away the city’s treasures, its property. The citizens of Trenton are entitled to political figures who discharge their duties with goodness of heart and not those motivated by personal gain.”
Tony F. Mack, 48, and Ralphiel Mack, 41, both of Trenton, originally were charged by complaint on September 10, 2012, with one count of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right related to the $119,000 extortion scheme. Also charged at that time was Joseph A. Giorgianni, 64, of Ewing, New Jersey. An indictment returned in December 2012 added charges against all three defendants.
Giorgianni pleaded guilty on December 13, 2013, to one count of conspiring with the Macks and others to obstruct interstate commerce by extorting individuals under color of official right, in addition to a separate extortion scheme, a narcotics charge and illegal weapons possession, all charges unrelated to the Macks.
Mayor Mack was convicted of the six counts charged in the indictment:
- Conspiracy to obstruct and affect interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right
- Attempted obstruction of commerce by extortion under the color of official right
- Accepting and agreeing to accept bribes
- Two counts of wire fraud
- Mail fraud
Ralphiel Mack was convicted on the same first three counts and found not guilty of the mail and wire fraud charges. The jury members deliberated for seven hours before returning their verdicts.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:
Tony Mack, Giorgianni, and Ralphiel Mack conspired to accept approximately $119,000 in cash and other valuables, of which $54,000 was accepted and another $65,000 that the defendants planned to accept from two cooperating witnesses (CW-1 and CW-2). In exchange for the payments, Tony Mack agreed to and did assist CW-1 and CW-2 in their efforts to acquire a city-owned lot (East State Street Lot) to develop an automated parking garage (the Parking Garage Project). The scheme included a plan to divert $100,000 of the purchase amount that CW-2 had indicated a willingness to pay to the city of Trenton for the lot as a bribe and kickback payment to Giorgianni and Tony Mack. The mayor authorized and directed a Trenton official responsible for disposition of city-owned land to offer the East State Street Lot to CW-2 for $100,000, significantly less than the amount originally proposed by CW-2.
The defendants went to great lengths to conceal their corrupt activity to keep Tony Mack “safe” from law enforcement. For example, Giorgianni and Ralphiel Mack acted as intermediaries, or “buffers,” who accepted cash payments for Tony Mack’s benefit. Tony Mack also used another city of Trenton employee involved in the scheme, Charles Hall, III, 49, of Trenton, to contact other Trenton officials to facilitate the Parking Garage Project and to inform the mayor when Giorgianni had received corrupt cash payments. Hall pleaded guilty before Judge Shipp in February 2013 to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to distribute narcotics with others, including Giorgianni.
To conceal the corrupt arrangement, the defendants avoided discussing matters related to the scheme over the telephone. When those matters were discussed, they used code words and aliases. One such code word was “Uncle Remus,” which both Giorgianni and Hall regularly used to communicate to Tony Mack that a corrupt payment had been received. For example, on October 29, 2011, Giorgianni telephoned Hall and informed him that Giorgianni had to “see” Tony Mack and that “I got Uncle Remus for him,” meaning a corrupt cash payment that Giorgianni had received from CW-1 two days earlier. Giorgianni directed Hall to bring Tony Mack to a meeting location controlled by Giorgianni (Giorgianni’s Clubhouse), stating “we gotta talk” because “I got something that might be good for him” and that “they’ve already come with Uncle Remus,” meaning a corrupt cash payment. On June 13, 2012, Giorgianni telephoned Tony Mack and informed him that “Uncle Remus,” meaning a corrupt cash payment, “was there.” Tony Mack replied, “I’ll call you, J. Okay?” In text messages to Tony Mack related to the scheme, Giorgianni would refer to himself as “Mr. Baker.”
The defendants also concealed their activities by holding meetings concerning the corrupt activity away from Trenton City Hall, including at Giorgianni’s residence, a restaurant maintained by Giorgianni known as JoJo’s Steakhouse, Giorgianni’s Clubhouse, and Atlantic City restaurants. At one Atlantic City meeting among Tony Mack, Giorgianni, Hall, and CW-2, Tony Mack instructed Giorgianni to ensure that no photographs were taken in order to conceal the corrupt arrangement.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Shipp sentenced Tony Mack to three years of supervised release, 100 hours of community service, and fined him $3,000. He sentenced Ralphiel Mack to three years of supervised release and fined him $1,500.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton Resident Agency, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencings.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric W. Moran and Matthew J. Skahill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Trenton and Camden, respectively.