Torricelli gets ticket for speeding

The former U.S. senator’s lawyer claims Lambertville police are out to get his client.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — Former Sen. Robert Torricelli’s lawyer claims Lambertville police are out to get his client in retaliation for subpoenas issued in connection with another traffic court case the politico is fighting.
   The ex-senator’s attorney, William P. Deni of Flemington, alleges local police are singling out his client. Police say that version is hogwash.
   Mr. Deni contends this newest round of legal difficulty for Mr. Torricelli — a speeding ticket issued Feb. 14 — was sparked by the issuance of subpoenas for a another motor vehicle ticket being heard in court under Judge Richard Cushing. He has subpoenaed Prosecutor Philip Faherty III; his own co-counsel, Jeffrey Weinstein; the court clerk; and several newspaper reporters, including a reporter for The Beacon, among others.
   Mr. Deni said, "It seems ironic that within 24 hours of issuing all of the subpoenas, he gets stopped for a speeding ticket. I think he’s got more law enforcement around him than the president."
   Bruce Cocuzza, director of the Lambertville Police Department, said, "Those charges are ridiculous. At 12:30 a.m., how would we see who was the operator at that time? He was clocked by the officer, and she didn’t know who he was. She had no idea who he was."
   Did the subpoenas spark some kind of police harassment?
   "Absolutely not," Mr. Cocuzza said. "To my knowledge, none of my officers even knew about the subpoenas at that time."
   The newest round of Mr. Torricelli’s difficulties with Lambertville Police occurred Valentine’s Day at 12:30 a.m. when Officer Sharon Polyak ticketed him for speeding. Police say the ex-senator was traveling 40 mph in a 25-mph zone on Route 29. He faces a fine of $101 plus points on his driving record, but he has the option of fighting the ticket in municipal court. He is scheduled to appear March 4 in connection with the speeding ticket.
   Officer Polyak is a 12-year veteran of the Lambertville Police Department. She was using a radar gun from a stationary position when she clocked Mr. Torricelli on Route 29, also known as Main Street, near Lambertville Public School, according to Mr. Cocuzza.
   Mr. Torricelli currently is fighting a minor traffic charge in municipal court that alleges he left the scene of an accident last August. In the wake of that police investigation, Mr. Torricelli alleged police had singled him out because of his position. He claimed he did nothing wrong. His trial is set to continue Feb. 26.
   An eyewitness contends the ex-senator was driving when his Jeep backed into a parked car owned by Edward O’Leary, the owner of the Main Street Market. The accident occurred in the shop’s parking lot. Mr. Torricelli has testified he was not at fault. The ex-senator said he was not driving the Jeep at the time of the accident. Instead, he said, his ex-wife, Susan Holloway, was behind the wheel.
   The trial resulting from the charges from the accident is set to resume Feb. 26.
   The tickets are the latest controversy involving Mr. Torricelli who dropped his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2002 after the Senate Ethics Committee criticized his dealings with a political donor. He was replaced on the ballot by former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who later won the election.