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UPDATE: Judge Stops Alleged 9/11 Charity Scam Artists From Soliciting Donations

Judge says 9/11 truck can be 'seized;' Manahawkin and Tinton Falls men sued for their part in alleged scheme

A judge has stopped two men who allegedly ran a bogus 9/11 charity in Ocean and Monmouth counties — and throughout the state — from soliciting more donations.

State Superior Court Judge Vincent Grasso issued an injunction Friday halting Thomas J. Scalgione, 40, of Manahawkin and Mark Anthony Niemczyk, 66, of Tinton Falls from raising funds that were supposed to aid 9/11 victims' families.

Grasso also authorized the seizure of any evidence relating to the investigation, including authorizing the impoundment of a truck that transported a tower piece recovered from the wreckage of Ground Zero to Barnegat last year.

In a statement to the court this morning, The Division of Consumer Affairs' Deputy Attorney General Anna M. Lascurain accused Scalgione and Niemczyk of promoting the bogus 9/11 victims' charity by driving around in the pickup truck, which was painted with the names of first responders who perished.

She said that Consumer Affairs requires that registered charities file paperwork and have a degree of "transparency and openness" in their record-keeping, which, she said, was not followed in this instance. "They used a national tragedy and are profiting from that tragedy," she said.

Scalgione and Niemczyk appeared in court Friday, representing themselves. Niemczyk said he couldn't afford legal representation; adding "I would like to have [a lawyer]."

Grasso noted that since this is a civil proceeding, "I don't know that you'd qualify," to have court-appointed representation. He advised the pair that some attorneys would at least consult with them for free.  

Scalgione claimed he filled out some paperwork to register the charity, and has provided proof, in the form of cancelled checks, to the Consumer Affairs office that some of the funds were distributed to families of 911 victims.

Lascurain noted that in the registration paperwork that was filed, both men failed to disclose the facts that Niemczyk pleaded guilty in 1989 to committing welfare fraud and Scalgione had been convicted on seven counts of criminal acts, including: criminal sex acts; credit card fraud; forgery; and computer related theft.

Grasso froze the charity's assets and permitted the seizure of all documents and materials connected to the charity, including the truck.

Both Scalgione and Niemczyk helped contribute a piece of World Trade Center steel for a monument at Barnegat High School. Through the efforts of resident and Patch blogger Charles Giles and others, the 9-foot steel beam was gifted to the Barnegat Township School district in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Giles has told Patch he contacted Scalgione to book the truck to pick up a piece of steel from one of the towers and bring it to Barnegat High School for a memorial held there last year, but declined to elaborate further.

Both Scalgione and Niemczyk drove the red pickup truck, which bore the names of first responders who perished in the attacks. Lascurain noted that the truck is currently located at a dealership in Ocean Township where it was being serviced.

A person who answered the phone at the dealership, whom declined to be identified, said that they had been in touch with the Attorney General's Office, but were waiting to hear about the jduge's order before commenting.

According to Patch and MSN file photos of the truck, it bore different logos and license plates at different time periods.

Niemczyk allegedly lied to the people he solicited by telling them he was a former Navy SEAL and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and at one time had a license plate on the pickup truck reading “N-Seal”. 

Niemczyk and Scalgione also allegedly have been selling T-shirts with New York City Police and Fire Department and Port Authority Police Department logos at 9/11 memorial events since mid-2011 to raise funds for their charity.

The  Attorney General's Office states that both were not authorized to use the logos and that they allegedly also had a collection jug for cash donations when they attended events with the truck.

A number of Barnegat Township residents attended the hearing, including Bill Cox, transportation coordinator for the Barnegat Township School District.

Cox, a former New York City police officer, has raised questions about the operation since seeing Niemczyk’s pickup truck at a World Trade Center memorial service in Barnegat.

"I am very happy with the result today," Cox said.

CentralNJMen August 06, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Tommy S is a well known scam artist in central NJ in the 90's and was banned from social groups were he preyed on older men who he gained their confidence and then stole and defrauded them. He is a smooth talker and never worked a day in his life. At one time lived out of his car and drove around looking for older men who he asked to take him in. He was also in Philly as well doing the same thing. He has not changed in all these years and clearly his performance in court was one of total denial which is his normal behavior when caught. He has lived in Manahawkin as this is where his parents reside, but he has also resided in Howell in the past. He does computer fraud as well, but his primary MO is to use and defraud older men. I do think that Tommy used this older man to carry out his fraud and this man trusted him and gave him control over the money. Tommy was smart and the bank accounts were NOT in his name. His partner was a simpleton as I could see on the Channel 2 interview and Tommy took advantage of this.
barbara August 06, 2012 at 09:08 PM
good for you matt, just so sad you were ignored......wonder what their next scam will be? at least our tried. shame on them for not following up.
Matthew Lightbody Sr. August 07, 2012 at 01:57 PM
mark you can call me or e-mail me I am not at liberty to discuss somethings on here do to and agreement with Tom Davis and I want to honor that.. The last time I did this I was banded from commenting and I want to keep my rights.. My cell is 609-713-3665 or e-mail therevenger1140@aim.com. Thank you ...
Matthew Lightbody Sr. August 11, 2012 at 12:53 AM
These New Jersey scumbags came from up north to hide in the pines thinking that we would not look into thier backround. Now where do you think these politicians came from in Ocean County and now I can say the one's that vote for them are brain dead!!!
Theresa Brown November 27, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Two front row spots in the down under.

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