Two Mercer County Men Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring with Former Trenton Mayor to Extort Bribes
TRENTON, NJ—Two Mercer County, New Jersey, men were sentenced today for conspiring with the former Mayor of Trenton and others to extort bribes and kickbacks in connection with a Trenton parking garage project, and for unrelated drug charges, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Joseph Giorgianni, a/k/a “Jo Jo,” 65, of Ewing Township, New Jersey, and Charles Hall III, 51, of Trenton, were sentenced to 78 and 48 months in prison, respectively. U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court. Giorgianni previously pleaded guilty before Judge Shipp to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiring with former Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack, 48, Ralphiel Mack, 41, (Tony Mack’s brother) both of Trenton, Hall and others to obstruct interstate commerce by extorting individuals under color of official right in connection with the development of an automated parking garage. Giorgianni also pleaded guilty to one count of extorting individuals under color of official right in connection with the administration of a power washing contract, as well as charges contained in a separate indictment, including one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and one count of possessing a firearm as a felon. Hall previously pleaded guilty before Judge Shipp to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to obstruct interstate commerce by extorting individuals under color of official right. Hall also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Tony Mack, Ralphiel Mack, Hall, and Giorgianni conspired to accept approximately $119,000 in cash and other valuables – actually accepting $54,000 and planning to accept the rest – from two cooperating witnesses. In exchange for the payments, Tony Mack assisted them in their efforts to acquire a city-owned lot on East State Street to develop an automated parking garage. The scheme included a plan for the city of Trenton to sell the lot for far less than one of the cooperating witnesses was willing to pay – diverting $100,000 of the suggested purchase amount 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 one of the witnesses for $100,000, significantly less than the amount originally proposed, so the rest could be taken as a bribe. The defendants went to great lengths to conceal their corrupt activity and 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.
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, including “Uncle Remus,” which both Giorgianni and Hall regularly used to communicate to Tony Mack that a corrupt payment had been received. The defendants also concealed their activities by holding meetings concerning the corrupt activity away from Trenton City Hall, including a restaurant maintained by Giorgianni known as JoJo’s Steakhouse.
In addition to the parking garage bribe and extortion payments, Giorgianni and Hall admitted their involvement in a narcotics distribution conspiracy with Mary Manfredo, 67, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and others from May 2011 to July 2012. Hall said he obtained, in coordination with Giorgianni, 13 prescriptions for oxycodone-based pain medication from a doctor in Nutley, New Jersey, which included a total of 1,560 pills. JoJo’s Steakhouse served as a front where oxycodone pills and drug proceeds were received and distributed.
Also, on July 18, 2012, Giorgianni, a convicted felon, was found in possession of four guns, including three pistols and a pump-action shotgun. Tony F. Mack and Raphiel Mack, both convicted following a five-week trial in February 2014, were sentenced to serve 58 months in prison and 30 months in prison, respectively.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Shipp sentenced Giorgianni and Hall each to serve three years of supervised release. Manfredo pleaded guilty to conspiring with Giorgianni, Hall and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. Manfredo awaits sentencing. 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.
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.
Defense counsel: Jerome A. Ballarotto Esq., Trenton