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The Unmaking of Mayor Addonizio

Originally appeared in Tiger In The Court
By Paul Hoffman

Stern suggested that they immediately subpoena all those Rigo had named before a federal grand jury. Lacey agreed and telephoned instructions to Assistant U.S. Attorney John W. Bissell in Newark. Marshals fanned out all over northern New Jersey serving the subpoenas. Addonizio was hit at Newark Airport as he stepped off a plane returning him from a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Lacey wanted to go a step further. "You hear a wild story like this, you want to confirm it," he says. "I went down the list of those that Rigo had accused. I had known Gordon [Philip Gordon, Newark's corporation counsel] as a lawyer who bore a good reputation in the community and felt this was about the best litmus test I could apply to resolve whether Rigo was or was not telling the truth."

He telephoned Gordon and asked him to come to Washington immediately. Gordon flew down on the shuttle Friday night. Lacey and Stern met him at Washington National Airport and led him into the terminal's restaurant. At the table, Lacey gave Gordon a Miranda warning, then said:
"Phil, Paul Rigo has charged that illegal payments were made by him to the mayor and others, including you. What about it?"

Gordon proved to be the weak link in the conspiracy. With only a second's hesitation, he admitted that it was true.

"This, of course, was a most significant break in the case," Lacey continues. "It gave the stamp of truth to what I recognized would be difficult for many citizens to accept -that there had been a conspiracy between organizedcrime figures and elected public officials in one of the nation's major cities."

On Saturday Lacey and Stern returned to Newark. Over the weekend Lacey conferred with Lordi, and the county prosecutor agreed to suspend his investigation and turn over all the grand-jury testimony he'd taken. He also agreed to lend the short-staffed U.S. attorney both Merkelbach and Riccardelli to serve as "special assistants."

The following week saw a parade of public officials into the grand-jury room. Gordon waived immunity and repeated under oath what he'd told Lacey in the airport restaurant-that on two occasions he'd received $2000 from Rigo. Both times Rigo had delivered the money in two envelopes-$1000 for Gordon, another $1000 for Anthony Guiliano. At the time, both men were members of the city council; Guiliano later became a municipal court judge.

"It was wrong legally, morally and any way you want to put it," Gordon confessed. "It was wrong."


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