Local/State

Trenton mayor pleads not guilty in bribery case

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The mayor of New Jersey's capital city pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a bribery case while his lawyer said he'd remain in office despite calls for his resignation from the city council and governor.

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack was arraigned in federal court on charges that he was involved in a scheme to accept $119,000 in bribes in exchange for using his influence to push the development of a parking garage on city-owned land.

A trial was scheduled for Feb. 19 for Mack, his brother Ralphiel Mack and Joseph Giorgianni, a sandwich shop owner, campaign supporter and registered sex offender. Both Ralphiel Mack and Joseph Giorgianni also entered not guilty pleas and both left without speaking to reporters.

Mark Davis, a lawyer for Mack, said he's requesting the trial be pushed back by six months because of what he understands is voluminous evidence from the sting operation that led to the mayor's arrest.

Mack was arrested in September and indicted this month on six criminal counts carrying a total maximum punishment of 110 years in prison, though a much shorter sentence would be likely if he's convicted. After Mack was indicted, Gov. Chris Christie joined the list of those saying the mayor should step down.

"He's going to keep his job until state law says otherwise," Davis said after the arraignment.

Mack himself left without speaking.

Judge Michael Shipp also warned Mack to steer clear of people he's forbidden to contact because they're involved in the case somehow. The admonishment came after a Trenton Times report that Mack was seen speaking with Harold Hall, a witness in the case who works for the city government and for a time served as the city's acting public works director.

Also Wednesday, the judge decided legal representation for Ralphiel Mack and Giorgianni. Both defendants' previous lawyers recently left the case.

Shipp appointed Jerome Ballarotto, whom Giorgianni had previously hired as his lawyer, to continue representing Giorgianni. Shipp appointed a public defender to represent Ralphiel Mack, but Mack said he might hire another lawyer.

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trenton, bribery, new jersey, local/state
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