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Things to Do Under House Arrest
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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Copyright (c) 2005 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.

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