TRENTON – A former Trenton city employee today admitted his participation in a bribery scheme allegedly involving Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack, the mayor’s brother, Ralphiel Mack, and close associate, Joseph A. “JoJo” Giorgianni, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Charles Hall III, 49, of Trenton, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to one count of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under color of official right. He also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone in a separate conspiracy with Giorgianni and others. An investigation did not reveal evidence that either Tony Mack or Ralphiel Mack were involved in the narcotics conspiracy.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From September 2010 through June 2012, Hall, Tony Mack, and Ralphiel Mack allegedly agreed to accept corrupt cash payments and other things of value from two cooperating witnesses in exchange for the mayor’s official assistance with the cooperating witnesses’ efforts to acquire a city owned lot (the “East State Street Lot”) to develop an automated parking garage. Hall admitted that he, Giorgianni, and Tony Mack agreed that Mack would take official action to fix the sale price of the East State Street Lot at $100,000 in exchange for a $100,000 bribe payment. Hall admitted that he met with a Trenton city official and caused that official to issue a letter offering to sell the East State Street Lot for $100,000, which was substantially lower than what the cooperating witness was willing to pay. Hall further admitted that he, Giorgianni, and Tony Mack agreed to split among themselves the $100,000 bribe payment.
Hall said Tony Mack instituted a system of “buffers,” or intermediaries, to receive bribe payments on his behalf. He admitted that Giorgianni and Ralphiel Mack served as Tony Mack’s intermediaries. Hall said that when talking over the telephone, he, Tony Mack, Giorgianni, and Ralphiel Mack limited their conversations to hide the illegal nature of the scheme in case law enforcement was tapping their phones. Hall admitted that “Uncle Remus” was a code word used by Hall, Tony Mack, and Giorgianni to signal that a bribe payment was available for pickup from Giorgianni. On Dec. 6, 2012, the Mack brothers and Giorgianni were charged in an eight-count indictment with extortion, bribery and mail and wire fraud.
In addition to the parking garage project-related bribe and extortion payments, Hall also admitted his involvement in a narcotics distribution conspiracy involving Giorgianni and others. Hall said he obtained, in coordination with Giorgianni, oxycodone-based pain medication, for the purpose of distribution. Jojo’s Steakhouse, a restaurant operated by Giorgianni and Mary Manfredo, 65, of Lawrenceville allegedly served as a front where oxycodone pills and drug proceeds were received and distributed.
The extortion conspiracy count to which Hall pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The narcotics conspiracy count is punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 5.
The charges and allegations in the indictment and complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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