By John Burton
TRENTON – A Tinton Falls man and his business partner, a Manahawkin man, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Ocean County to operating a bogus 9/11 charity.
Mark Niemczyk, 67, Tinton Falls, and Thomas Scalgione, 41, pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception, according to the state Office of the Attorney General.
Authorities said the two men drove around the state in a pickup truck painted with images of the Twin Towers buildings and the names of police and firefighters killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Niemczyk and Scalgione would solicit donations and sell T-shirts claiming the proceeds would go victims’ families. The men collected thousands of dollars, yet none of the money ever made it to the families, authorities said.
Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Niemczyk be sentenced to 364 days in the county correctional facility and Scalgione be sentenced to probation. Scalgione is currently under probation for unrelated charges in Monmouth County, meaning his guilty plea will result in jail time for probation violation, according to the attorney general office.
The men are expected back in court on March 7.
As a condition of their plea agreement, the men also agree to pay $120,000 for a civil action judgment, with the two prohibited from working for any charity in New Jersey.