Alleged 9-11 Scammers’ Assets Frozen, Truck Impounded
The shore men accused of running a bogus 9/11 charity have had their assets frozen and their pickup truck festooned with names of dead first-responders impounded.
Information from New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa's office says that Thomas Scalgione, 40, of Manahawkin and Mark Niemczyk, 66, of Tinton Falls were also ordered to stop soliciting donations.
The pair are accused of collecting donations at numerous sites, including 9/11 memorial events, ostensibly to benefit families of firefighters, police officers and EMS workers who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers - then pocketing the money.
According to investigators, they sold T-shirts bearing the unauthorized brandings of the New York City Police and Fire Departments and the Port Authority Police Department at various sites from mid-2011 until now.
A retired New York City police officer who encountered them at a Barnegat memorial notified the state Division of Consumer Affairs, triggering the investigation.
In a pending complaint filed by the State, Niemczyk and Scalgione are charged with operating an unregistered charity and other violations of New Jersey's Charities Registration and Investigation Act.
Authorities assert that none of the foundations or causes for which the men claimed to collect contributions had any knowledge of them, and that the donations were placed in Niemczyk's personal bank account.
The complaint also alleges that Niemczyk presented himself as a former Navy SEAL and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and placed a license plate on the pickup that bore the legend "N-Seal."
Niemczyk, according to records, has a 1989 conviction for welfare fraud. Scalgione's record reportedly includes convictions for theft, forgery, credit card fraud and possession of an emergency communications receiver during commission of a crime.
Scalgione has told reporters that their enterprise is legitimate and that they'll fight the lawsuit.