Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ferriero's Racketeering Trial on Hold

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ferriero's Racketeering Trial on Hold

Article excerpt

A federal judge on Monday postponed the racketeering trial of Joseph A. Ferriero, the former Bergen County Democratic leader, as she considers a defense request to throw out the indictment because U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman allegedly has a conflict of interest.

Jury selection had been scheduled to begin this morning in U.S. District Court in Newark.

During a closed hearing Monday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas heard arguments on the matter from prosecutors and Ferriero's lawyers.

The defense lawyers claim that Fishman has an "irreconcilable" conflict because prior to becoming U.S. attorney in 2009 he represented a potential witness in the case against Ferriero.

Fishman's office has called the claim "legally and factually groundless."

Salas ordered both sides to submit additional briefs, and set another hearing on the matter for Feb. 19.

Ferriero was indicted in September 2013 on charges that he engaged in bribery, kickback and shakedown schemes, including one to extort $1.7 million from the developer of the Meadowlands project formerly known as Xanadu.

Salas is considering several options.

Ferriero's lawyers had asked her to either dismiss the indictment or disqualify Fishman and his office from prosecuting the case.

In a brief public session that followed the 2 1/2-hour closed hearing, Ferriero's lawyer Michael Baldassare outlined two additional options for the judge to consider.

One would be to dismiss the racketeering charge related to the Xanadu project and let the rest of the indictment stand.

The indictment also alleges that Ferriero secured a Bergenfield borough attorney job for a friend, Dennis Oury, who then persuaded the town to hire a grant-writing firm in which both he and Ferriero had ownership interests.

The indictment also accuses Ferriero of accepting kickbacks from a Nutley software developer who sought his help in obtaining public contracts in Bergen County municipalities. …

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