By John Burton
TRENTON – A Tinton Falls resident and another man were sentenced yesterday for operating a bogus charity purporting to raise money for firefighters and police slain on 9/11.
Mark Niemczyk, 67, was sentenced to five years probation in Superior Court, in Ocean County. Niemczyk’s partner in the scheme, Thomas Scalgione, 42, of Manahawkin, was sentenced to six months incarceration in county jail, for violating his parole from an unrelated offense by engaging in this criminal enterprise, and was sentenced to one-year probation, according to the state Office of the Attorney General.
Scalgione is a convicted sex offender and subject to community supervision for life, authorities said.
As a provision of their probation, the two must comply with a consent judgment from a civil suit filed by the state Division of Consumer Affairs and pay $120,000. The two are also barred from working with any charitable donation in the state.
The state had sought a 364-day jail sentence for Niemczyk, but Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney opted for the non-custodial penalty, citing Niemczyk’s health, the attorney general’s office said.
According to authorities, the two men had a pickup truck painted with images of the World Trade Center towers, symbols of the New York Police and Fire Departments and the names of first responders who were killed during the terrorist attacks. The men would drive the truck to 9/11 events in and out of New Jersey, where they would sell T-shirts with the same images as the truck. The men charged $20 apiece for the shirts and collected donations, saying the proceeds would be used for the victim’s families and for 9/11 charitable organziations, when in fact the men kept the money.