NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The men who used the names of September 11 heroes in alleged scam said they were collecting money to benefit a so-called charity, but New Jersey’s attorney general said the men were keeping the money for themselves.
The state of New Jersey has filed a civil lawsuit against Mark Anthony Niemczyk and Thomas Scalgione, demanding the duo stop soliciting money.
The state also wants to impound the pickup truck registered to 66-year-old Niemczyk. The two ex-cons drove around in a pickup truck bearing the names of first responders who were killed on 9/11, asking for donations for family members, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
One suspect even managed to get New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to pose with him for a picture. The governor said taking pictures with people he doesn’t know is an occupational hazard.
“I’ve been in public life in the state for a decade…you wind up getting your picture taken with a lot of people and you hope that in the end they wind up using those pictures for the proper purposes,” Governor Christie said. “To be playing on the tragedy of September 11th to…line your own pockets is one of the most awful things I think anyone can do in this region,” said Christie.
The pair allegedly said they they were collecting money to go toward a fund in FDNY firefighter George Cain’s name. He was killed on 9/11 and his mother said it’s upsetting.
“For him to be saying that I gave him permission to go, and that he had whatever the documentation is, for Cain Fund is not true, it’s not true…I feel that he’s dishonored the 343 firefighters, he’s dishonored by putting their names on a truck and using them to scam people of their money,” Rosemary Cain said.
The father of one of the accused men also came to his defense. Scalgione’s father told CBS 2’s Sloan his son’s a good man.
“He’s our care taker, or care giver, my wife and I are both seniors and we both have problems,” said Angelo Scalgione.
The two ex-cons will be in court in Ocean County on Friday to answer to the civil case. They could face criminal charges.