Trenton mayor was ensnared, attorney tells jury
Mayor Tony Mack was ensnared by investigators who used a fake land deal and a slick-talking middleman posing as a power broker, Mark Davis said.
Davis told jurors to be wary of what he called the government's "highlight reel," secretly recorded phone conversations and meetings between alleged coconspirators including Mack and Joseph "JoJo" Giorgianni, a steak shop owner and purported middleman in the scheme.
"Never put too much stock in someone's highlight reel; it's one-sided," Davis said.
Manfredo and Hall changed their stories in the months leading up to the trial in exchange for leniency on drug charges they faced, he said. Giorgianni controlled the scheme and lied about having influence with Mack and getting his approval.
"This was the JoJo show," Davis said. "He controlled the money. He controlled the information." Hall and Manfredo were "mercenaries," offering "manufactured, for-sale truth," he added.
Robert Haney, an attorney representing Ralphiel Mack, told jurors that Giorgianni's utterances on the tapes should be ignored because the government did not call him as a witness and expose him to cross-examination.
In the government's rebuttal summation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Skahill countered that the audio and video evidence represented more than just highlights.
"This is the whole game, the whole season," Skahill said. "This is Tony Mack and Ralphiel Mack showing their awareness of, and participation in, this whole scheme."
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Friday.
The land deal to build a downtown parking garage was actually a government sting involving a lawyer and a developer acting as informants who approached Giorgianni with an offer to bribe Tony Mack in exchange for getting the contract.
The land had been assessed for well over $200,000, prosecutors told the jury at the beginning of the trial, but Mack authorized its sale to one of the informants for $100,000 in exchange for bribes.
In all, the government contends, $54,000 was passed to Giorgianni from late 2011 through mid-2012 and an additional $65,000 had been agreed on. At his guilty plea in December to two extortion-related counts, Giorgianni admitted giving Mack a total of about $8,000 in bribes.
Tony Mack has remained in office since his arrest in late 2012. If convicted, he would join a long list of New Jersey mayors to run afoul of the law in recent years. Since 2000, that list includes mayors of Newark, Camden, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Hoboken, Passaic, Asbury Park, Orange, and Hamilton, all of whom were convicted or pleaded guilty to various corruption-related charges.