Former mayor admits taking developer’s cash
Matt Scannapieco also pleads guilty to tax evasion
BY TALI ISRAELI
Matthew V. Scannapieco, who served as Marlboro’s mayor for 12 years, is facing a July 15 sentencing after pleading guilty on April 12 to accepting bribes totaling approximately $245,000 from a developer who conducted business in Marlboro. The former mayor also pleaded guilty to tax evasion, specifically for failing to pay federal taxes on the money he accepted from the developer.
Scannapieco, 60, will face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the bribery count and five years in prison and a $100,000 fine on the tax evasion count when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle this summer.
The guilty plea entered by Scannapieco in federal court, Cam-den came almost one year after IRS agents searched his Marlboro home on June 25, 2004, and removed several boxes of documents.
The former mayor’s guilty plea in open court on April 12 was the first public notice of the case the government made against him. Following the IRS’s search of Scannapieco’s home last summer, there had never been a public announcement of an arrest or of an indictment.
Scannapieco served as the mayor of Marlboro from January 1992 through December 2003. He did not seek re-election to a fourth term in the 2003 election. During the course of his career in public service, Scannapieco also served on the Township Council, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Scannapieco has worked for the state as a commissioner on the Victims of Crime Compensation Board since 1996. His most recent term ended in 2004, although he remained on the board into 2005 because Acting Gov. Richard Codey had not yet named a replacement.
Some published reports indicated Scannapieco has given notification that he would leave the board’s employ at the end of May. The accounts said he is using accrued leave time and is not presently working at his office in Newark. Other published reports indicated that Codey would fire Scannapieco immediately.
In regard to the government’s case against the former mayor, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said, “Scannapieco admitted that on numerous occasions from 1997 to 2003, he accepted cash payments from a developer for supporting that developer’s projects as the mayor and a voting member of the Planning Board.”
Members of the Planning Board are responsible for reviewing and determining whether to approve any and all land use development within Marlboro.
“As Marlboro grew and faced development pressures, Scannapieco was there with his hand held wide open. Decisions that literally shaped the landscape and character of a community were bought and paid for by this mayor and developer,” Christie said.
Although the developer from whom he took the payments was not named by Scannapieco or in court documents, the former mayor admitted to accepting cash payments on specific dates for his support of specific projects.
Marlboro Mayor Robert Kleinberg, who took office in January 2004, said he has spoken with employees from the zoning and engineering departments about the projects named in court. The mayor said the employees seem to believe the properties listed in the charges were properties in which local developer Anthony Spalliero had a stake. However, Kleinberg said he could not say for sure that they were.
Scannapieco admitted to accepting payments in exchange for his support of the following projects:
+ $25,000 was accepted in 1997 in exchange for supporting the developer’s project on Texas Road;
+ $60,000 was accepted in 1997 and 1998 in exchange for supporting the rezoning of property south of Woodcliff Boulevard;
+ In 1999, $25,000 was accepted for working to settle a dispute between the developer and Marlboro regarding the developer’s rights on Dutch Lane Road, Vanderburg Road and Pleasant Valley Road;
+ $100,000 in 2001 and 2002 was accepted for supporting rezoning property located on and around the former Marlboro Airport site (Route 79);
+ In 2001 or 2002, $10,000 was accepted for persuading an elected state official to assist the developer in procuring an easement across a railroad line near Dutch Lane and Buckley roads;
+ $25,000 was accepted in 2002 and 2003 for supporting approvals to construct a large retail store at Route 9 and Route 520.
Scannapieco, who is a certified public accountant, a certified financial auditor and earned a master’s degree in finance, also pleaded guilty to tax evasion, according to information provided by the U.S. Attorney.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the federal tax return Scannapieco filed on or about April 15, 1999 for the 1998 tax year stated that the taxable income for him and his wife for 1998 was $80,239.
“That tax return intentionally did not include $79,603 in additional taxable income (including corrupt cash payments from the developer) that (Scannapieco) had received in 1998. Upon this income, an additional tax of $24,215 was due and owing to the United States,” the court documents stated.
Attorney Mitchell J. Ansell, who represented Scannapieco, issued a statement on behalf of the former mayor in which he said, “Matthew Scannapieco has devoted his entire life toward service to his community. The past 20 years, he has served on the Marlboro Planning Board, the Marlboro zoning board, the Marlboro Township Council, as well as being the mayor for 12 years. Today is a very sad day for Matt and his entire family. He, however, had the courage to stand before this court and his community and admit to his mistakes and wrondoings.
“What Matt will now do is devote the rest of his life to trying to right these terrible wrongs. All that Matt and his family ask is that when he is judged, that it be with compassion, fairness and based upon his entire career, not just the matter that brought us to court today,” Ansell said.