UNION COUNTY — Superior Court Judge Philip Maenza suspended a probation sentence pending the outcome of several appeals in the bizarre stalking case against Assemblyman Joseph Cryan’s ex-girlfriend.
After sentencing Karen E. Golding, Maenza put the order on hold so that her lawyer, Roy Greenman, may appeal multiple issues in the case that has lingered for five years and consumed more resources than many murder investigations.
Golding’s relationship with Cryan soured after the Catholic lawmaker allegedly manhandled the West Orange woman at an Atlantic City casino in response to learning that she had an abortion.
Golding entered a conditional guilty plea to stalking another Cryan girlfriend, Kathy Conway, as part of a November 2007 plea bargain that was supposed to allow her to participate in a pretrial intervention program (PTI), but prosecutors were subjected to intense political pressure to get her confined.
Sheriff Ralph Froehlich said Union County Democratic Party boss Charlotte Defilippo pressured him into giving Cryan a $110,000 job two months after his father’s Metuchen tavern closed down owing $500,000 in state sales taxes.
Cryan, who was elected to the Assembly in 2001, used that authority and political clout to encourage Union County law enforcement officials to track Golding, who he believed anonymously tipped a newspaper reporter about financial irregularities in a non-profit association controlled by the politician.
A squad of 13 Union County investigators — including a captain, four lieutenants and two sergeants — operating 50 miles out of their jurisdiction arrested Golding in the State House parking lot in Trenton and charged her with burglary on Feb. 6, 2006 when she briefly sat in an unlocked vehicle assigned to Cryan.
The case was thrust into the headlines when it was later revealed that while desperate for bail at 9 p.m. on the night of her arrest, Golding placed a phone call to Gov. Jon Corzine, who dispatched an aide with $5,000 in cash to Elizabeth.
Throughout the affair, Cryan adamantly denied having a relationship with Golding, but voicemail recordings indicate that the couple maintained a sexual affair even while investigators from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office pursued the case.
Judge Maenza also ordered the prosecution to return to Golding her computers that had been seized by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and said the criminal case should not have been handled as it was because of the conflict of interest presented by Cryan being a public official in Union County.
“Interviews and dozens of internal documents obtained by The Star-Ledger reveal a melodrama featuring political intrigue, stalking, sexually explicit messages, mystery phone calls and a response by law enforcement perhaps more fit for a mob boss, terrorist or drug kingpin,” according to a story published on Sunday, May 14, 2006 entitled, “Complaint by Democratic boss mobilized a small army of investigators.”
Golding was a $100,000-a-year lobbyist for Prudential Financial who had been a Democratic campaign operative, member of the state Board of Dentistry, and a trustee of the foundation that runs the governor’s mansion who had no criminal record prior to her Feb. 6, 2006 arrest.
ADDENDUM: Cryan married Conway last year.