Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Nearly 5-year term for ex-Trenton mayor in bribery sting

Gallery: Nearly 5-year term for ex-Trenton mayor in bribery sting
TRENTON - Former Trenton Mayor Tony Mack was sentenced Thursday to nearly five years in federal prison for corruption.

In addition to serving 58 months, Mack, 48, also must do 100 hours of community service and pay $3,000 in fines.

He was not ordered to report to prison immediately. Judge Michael Shipp said Mack should be sent to the prison nearest Smithfield, N.C., where he lives.

Shipp said Mack's history of public service was a factor in sentencing him below the guideline range of 63 to 78 months.

Mack was nabbed in a government sting. Prosecutors say he accepted bribes in exchange for helping get approvals to develop a parking garage in a phony deal. At trial this year, prosecutors laid out how he used a code phrase - "Uncle Remus" - to refer to bribe money.

Mack was found guilty in February of bribery, fraud, and extortion while still in office.

"The harm done was not just to the city, but to public officials and candidates who have to endure the skepticism and reputation that they did not earn," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Moran told the judge.

Mack declined to address the judge during the sentencing hearing. His lawyer, Mark Davis, said after the hearing that there were reasons for that.

"It's hard to express remorse for something you didn't do," Davis said, adding that he did not want an apology to cloud the record in case of an appeal, which he said was likely.

Davis also provided a copy of a letter to the judge from an alternate juror in the trial, Sherie Jackson, who said she believed the 12 who decided the case rushed to a verdict.

"Had that random selection turned out differently and I had been placed among my peers, Your Honor, I can assure you we would still be deliberating in that jury room today," she wrote.

She asked for leniency for Mack and his brother, former Trenton Central High School football coach Ralphiel Mack, who also was convicted. He was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison.

A third man, sandwich shop owner Joseph Giorgianni, pleaded guilty last year and is set to be sentenced July 15.

Though Shipp gave Tony Mack a lighter sentence than required, he said he imposed the fines and community service to send a message.

"The defendant here owes the public a debt," he said.

Tony Mack remained in office for 19 days after his conviction before a judge ordered him removed from office and stripped him of his taxpayer-funded pension. He served less than one term as mayor of the city where he grew up.

Voters went to the polls Tuesday to choose his replacement. But because none of the six candidates received a majority of the votes, there will be a runoff June 10 between the top two finishers, Eric Jackson and Paul Perez.

Mack joined a string of New Jersey mayors convicted in corruption cases since 2000, including the leaders of Newark, Camden, and Asbury Park.

His administration was under a cloud from the time he took office in 2010 as Trenton's first new mayor in 20 years.

The state government took a role in city hiring decisions amid charges of rampant cronyism and financial mismanagement under Mack.

There also was rapid turnover at key city government jobs. After deep layoffs in the city police force, crime in the city of 84,000 - one of the nation's poorest state capitals - has been a major problem. Last year, there were a record 41 homicides.

After the sentencing, Mack declined to comment to reporters. He walked mostly silently through a neighborhood near the federal courthouse, where several residents greeted him, asking if he was OK.

One man called out, "You're all right, Mack."

Geoff Mulvihill Associated Press
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