Joe Ferriero: Wikis

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Joseph A. Ferriero

Bergen County Democratic Organization Chairman
In office
1998 – January 22, 2009
Preceded by Jerry Calabrese
Succeeded by Michael Kasparian
Constituency Bergen County, New Jersey

Born June 25, 1957
Political party Democratic
Residence Old Tappan, New Jersey
Alma mater Fordham University (B.A.)
Hofstra University School of Law (J.D.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Joseph A. Ferriero (born June 25, 1957) is a American Democratic Party political leader from New Jersey and former chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization. Ferriero, an attorney by profession, resides in Old Tappan. In September 2008, Ferriero and an associate, Dennis Oury, were indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. On October 22, 2009, he was found guilty on three of the eight counts against him.

Contents

Personal life

Ferriero was born on June 25, 1957, in Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck, New Jersey, to Joseph and Lucille Ferriero. His father was a factory worker.[1] In 1996, Lucille succumbed to Lou Gehrig's disease.[2]

Ferriero has three siblings: Rosemary, Carol (deceased) and Barbara.[2]

From the time he was three years old, young Ferriero was the mascot of Hose Company #3, where his father served as a volunteer firefighter. At the age of 16, Ferriero himself joined the Dumont Fire Patrol, eventually joining the Dumont Volunteer Fire Department after he turned 18 and worked his way up to the rank of Captain.[3]

Ferriero is the father of three teenaged children – Joseph age 17 (c. 1992) and twins Christopher and Sophia age 14 (c. 1995).[4]

Ferriero is also an avid runner, running the 2008 New York City Marathon in 4 hours, 30 minutes. Ferriero's eldest son, Joseph, joined Ferriero for the final ten miles.[5]

Education

After high school, Ferriero attended Fordham University in the The Bronx.[6] Ferriero graduated with a B.A. in Economics and Public Administration. Ferriero went on to attend Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, New York.[6]

Ferriero graduated from Hofstra with a Juris Doctorate in 1982.[7]

Campaigns for state office

While in college, Ferriero was elected a county committeeman, representing District 6 of Dumont. At 18 years-old, Ferriero was the youngest county committeeman in Dumont's history.[6]

In 1977, Ferriero ran for Borough Councilman,[8] and defeated two Democratic incumbents in the primary.

In March 1985 at age 28 Ferriero ran as a Democrat for the State Assembly in the 39th Legislative District[9] in a special election against Elizabeth "Lisa" Randall. Ferriero was defeated by Randall.

In November 1985, Ferriero again ran unsuccessfully for the State Assembly in the 39th District.[10]

Career

Ferriero was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1982,[11] and continued on with Galantucci & Patuto as an associate. He would later be appointed to the bars of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (1982), the District of Columbia (1988),[12] the State of New York (1994)[13] and the United States Supreme Court (1988).[14]

Ferriero left Wolf & Sampson in 2002 and joined the firm of Scarinci & Hollenbeck. Ferriero's portfolio included complex personal injury litigation, medical malpractice litigation, professional negligence, municipal administrative law, commercial litigation, land use/zoning law, and employment and environmental law.[7]

Ferriero is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, and the American Bar Association. He has also been appointed to serve as a mediator and arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.[15]

Bergen County Democratic Chairman

As Bergen County Democratic Chairman, Ferriero created the Bergen County African American Democratic Conference to encourage diversity in the party, and was instrumental in electing one of the first African-American legislators in Bergen County. He was also an early supporter of Vernon Walton, the county's first ever African-American freeholder.[16]

Critics have noted that Ferriero's position as County Chairman gave him extensive power to select hundreds of employees in county government and to award no-bid contracts, many of whom have been involved in pay to play, receiving contracts in exchange for contributions.[17]

Ferriero has had a long-running feud with State Senator Loretta Weinberg, who has stood steadfastly independent from Ferriero's organization. In 2007, Ferriero endorsed a ticket of Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes for Senate, and Cid Wilson and Ken Zisa for Assembly, to face off in a primary challenge against incumbents Weinberg, and her Assembly running mates Valerie Huttle and Gordon M. Johnson.[18] In the face of flagging poll figures for his slate, an April 2007 deal was brokered by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine, in which Ferriero pulled his three candidates off the ballot and agreed that he and the county party organization would support Weinberg and her running mates.[19][20]

He also championed the Latin American Democratic Association (LADA) to encourage Hispanic participation in the Bergen County Democratic Party. LADA and Ferriero were influential in later electing Thomas Padia as freeholder and supporting him for Freeholder Director. Padia was the first Hispanic to serve as Freeholder Director in the county's history.[21]

Corruption trial and conviction

In September 2008, Ferriero and Dennis J. Oury were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The indictment alleged that Ferriero and Oury had concealed ownership of a grant-writing business that did business with Bergenfield, one of several municipalities that had Oury on the payroll as municipal attorney; that they had used their political clout to steer $1.4 million in grants to that borough, then collected fees from their company; and that they had used the United States mail to execute this scheme to defraud Bergenfield of money, property, and Oury's honest services.[22] Ferriero pleaded not guilty. He was eventually convicted on two counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy under the honest services theory of fraud; he was not found guilty of defrauding Bergenfield of money or property.a

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Crimes

Ferriero and Oury first conspired in December 2001 to create a grant-writing company, Government Grants Consulting, that would capitalize on their access to state and local officials to secure grants for towns like Bergenfield, which would allow them to collect considerable income as the principal shareholders of GGC. Ferriero faxed proposed contracts and draft resolutions appointing GGC as municipal grantsman to officials in several municipalities. On January 1, 2002, the Bergenfield Borough Council voted both to hire Oury as borough attorney and to contract with GGC. GGC was misleadingly represented to be an established corporation with "a special expertise, training, and reputation in acquiring government grants" even though it did not even exist as a legal entity at that or any other time and had never served any other clients.[22] Oury, who was present at that meeting, failed to disclose his significant financial interest in GGC. Ferriero subsequently drafted a shareholders' agreement for GGC, with most of the shares held by him, Oury, and then-North Arlington Mayor Leonard Kaiser, who was not charged. Ferriero and Oury, according to the indictment, then proceeded to use real grant-writers' services and their own ties to obtain grants for Bergenfield and bringing more money to GGC and themselves. They had opened a bank account in GGC's name in Englewood Cliffs, for which they were two of three authorized signers. The money paid to GGC by Bergenfield was split among Ferriero, Oury, and the other shareholders, using the United States mail, and Oury intentionally failed to disclose his financial interest in and income from GGC on statements he was required to file as a public official in the boroughs of Bergenfield, Fort Lee, New Milford and Edgewater, also using the United States mail.[22]

Trial

Dennis Oury, Ferriero's co-defendant, plea bargained with the prosecution prior to the trial; on September 29, 2009, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and a reduced charge of failing to file a tax return.[23] Oury was called as a witness by the prosecution on October 6 and completed his testimony on October 7.[1]

The trial began on October 1, 2009. Prosecutors opened by explaining the allegations against Ferriero to the jury, also informing them that Oury had pleaded guilty two days beforehand. Joseph Hayden, an attorney defending Ferriero, argued in his opening statement that unlike Oury, Ferriero was a private citizen who had a right to have created a legitimate grant-writing company and solicited on behalf of that company. He also noted that Ferriero had paid taxes on his income from GGC where Oury had not in an attempt to further conceal his conflict of interest.[1] The prosecution called numerous witnesses to the stand, including former Bergenfield Mayor Robert Rivas, former Bergenfield councilmen, other individuals involved in GGC, and Dennis Oury himself.[1]

Ferriero testified in his own defense on October 14–15. While on the witness stand, Ferriero stated that he had been under "absolutely no obligation" to reveal his ownership of GGC, and that he had "had the absolute right to reach out on behalf of the company."[1] Ferriero also testified that he had believed that Oury was going to recuse himself from Bergenfield government matters regarding GGC, and that he had not been aware that Oury was offering legal advice to or doing legal work for Bergenfield in matters involving GGC.[1] In their cross-examination of Ferriero, prosecutors pressed Ferriero for using his influence to secure the passage of the relevant grants, and for not directly asking Oury whether he had recused himself. Ferriero admitted that he had used his influence to facilitate the grants' passage, but insisted that doing so was "not a bad thing." Ferriero also admitted that he had never asked Oury whether he had recused himself, asserting that he did not think to do so because it was "so basic in the law."[1] In his closing statement, Hayden asserted that the only individual whose conduct was improper was Oury, and that Ferriero had lacked an intent to defraud; he also asserted that, regarding the honest services fraud charge, the prosecution had failed to prove that Ferriero knew that his actions were resulting in Oury serving Bergenfield dishonestly.[1]

Conviction

On October 22, 2009, Ferriero was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of mail fraud. He was acquitted on five other counts of mail fraud.[24] The mailings for which Ferriero was convicted of mail fraud were:

  • A November 2003 letter from state DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell to the mayor of Bergenfield, informing the borough of a $600,000 Green Acres grant/loan award (which Ferriero "caused to be mailed" over the course of the scheme to defraud Bergenfield of Oury's honest services)
  • A July 2004 letter from Governmental Grants Consulting President David Spatz to Ferriero that enclosed a check from Bergenfield for $128,625 payable to GGC (which Ferriero "caused to be mailed" over the course of the scheme to defraud Bergenfield of Oury's honest services).

Ferriero was not convicted of the five counts of mail fraud pertaining to the false financial disclosure forms filed by Oury with several municipalities that employed him.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ferriero Trial Blog, via NorthJersey.com
  2. ^ a b "Ferriero Foundation". September 2009. http://www.ferrierofoundation.org. 
  3. ^ "Ferriero Foundaation". 2009. http://ferrierofoundation.org/. 
  4. ^ "Joseph Ferriero". 2009. http://www.josephferriero.com. 
  5. ^ "Sunday's New York City Marathon finishers from New Jersey". November 2, 2008. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=trackandfield&id=3679157. 
  6. ^ a b c Harrington, Sharon D. "Ferriero a Democratic empower broker; Bergen party blossoms under chief.", The Record, January 26, 2003.
  7. ^ a b "Martindale-Hubbell". 1982. http://www.martindale.com/Joseph-A-Ferriero/2543099-lawyer.htm. 
  8. ^ "Ferriero ran for Borough Councilman". 1978. http://democratsofdumont.com/history.html. 
  9. ^ "State Assembly in the 39th Legislative District". March 1985. http://www.state.nj.us/state/elections/1985results/1985-primary-results-gen-assembly.pdf. 
  10. ^ "State Assembly in the 39th Legislative District". November 1985. http://www.state.nj.us/state/elections/1985results/1985-general-election-results-gen-assembly.pdf. 
  11. ^ "Lawyer Joseph Ferriero - Lyndhurst Attorney - Avvo.com". November 1982. http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/07071-nj-joseph-ferriero-1587915.html. 
  12. ^ "Lawyer Joseph Ferriero - Avvo.com". 1988. http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/07071-nj-joseph-ferriero-1587915.html. 
  13. ^ "Lawyer Joseph Ferriero - Avvo.com". 1994. http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/07071-nj-joseph-ferriero-1587915.html. 
  14. ^ "Lawyer Joseph Ferriero - Avvo.com". November 1988. http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/07071-nj-joseph-ferriero-1587915.html. 
  15. ^ "Lawyer Joseph Ferriero - Avvo.com". November 1982. http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/07071-nj-joseph-ferriero-1587915.html. 
  16. ^ "Positive Community". February 2009, Vol. 9, No. 5.. http://www.nyts.edu/alumni-news/140-the-rev-vernon-c-walton-takes-oath-of-office. 
  17. ^ Method, Jason. "Bergen Democratic leader exerts influence locally, statewide", Asbury Park Press, October 25, 2004. Accessed March 26, 2008.
  18. ^ Gohlke, Josh. "June forecast: heated primaries; Intraparty squabbles promise lively races.", The Record, April 10, 2007.
  19. ^ Carmiel, Oshrat. "Democrats close ranks in 37th District; Ferriero backs Weinberg, halts challenge.", The Record, April 13, 2007.
  20. ^ Smothers, Ronald. "Democrats Make Peace in Bergen County", The New York Times, April 15, 2007. Accessed April 2, 2008.
  21. ^ Shannon D. Harrington "Politicians Show Winning Ways In The Suburbs", The Record, February 6, 2005.
  22. ^ a b c Indictment
  23. ^ Joe Ryan (September 29, 2009). "Former attorney for Bergen County Dems pleads guilty in corruption case". The Star-Ledger. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/former_attorney_for_bergen_cou.html. 
  24. ^ "Former Bergen County political boss Ferriero found guilty in corruption case". The Star-Ledger. 2009-10-22. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/10/guilty_verdict_in_trial_of_for.html. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 

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