DeMarzo back to court in December

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Prosecutor wants different judge to hear case

WILDWOOD — Former Mayor Gary DeMarzo will be back in court on Dec. 10 when arguments are set to begin in his latest case.

But who will judge the matter is another issue.

County Prosecutor Robert Taylor wants a different judge to hear the case and has filed a motion to recuse Supreme Court Judge Albert Garofolo.

According to the motion, Taylor argued that Garofolo has already “prejudged the case” and favored the defense.

DeMarzo was indicted in June on charges of misconduct and contempt of court for allegedly using city funds to pay for personal legal fees. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in July. Similar charges, minus the contempt charge, against DeMarzo had been dismissed in April by Garofolo.

According to Louis Barbone, DeMarzo’s lawyer, it is the same case with a different claim.

DeMarzo is again seeking to have the case dismissed and has claimed that the indictment was “a politically motivated attack by County Prosecutor Robert Taylor” and has called on the prosecutor to resign.

“I am innocent,” DeMarzo wrote in an emailed statement to the media. “Taylor is trying to put me in prison for more than 10 years. Is he trying to take away my life? His actions have already forever affected my family, my wife and my young son and our ability to live our lives free of the stigma and scrutiny he has instigated.”

Taylor said DeMarzo's claims were false.

“Mr. DeMarzo’s claims are not true. Mr. DeMarzo has apparently forgotten that the New Jersey Attorney General's office has already reviewed and approved the criminal charges against him. The New Jersey division of criminal justice in the attorney general's office had documents to support the criminal charges prior to the case being presented to the Cape May County grand jury that indicted Mr. DeMarzo,” Taylor said in a prepared statement.

The charges stem from a lawsuit DeMarzo filed against Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., attorney Marcus Karavan, former commissioner Bill Davenport, and the city in 2009 and 2010 when he was a commissioner. 

The issue actually began in 2007, when DeMarzo was holding office and taking a leave of absence from his job at the police department.

Originally Mayor Ernie Troiano and former commissioner Bill Davenport argued that holding both positions, even if DeMarzo was on a leave of absence, was a conflict of interest.

In 2007, Superior Court Judge Joseph Visalli ruled DeMarzo could maintain his office and remain on an unpaid leave of absence from the police department, with certain judicial restrictions, such as limiting which issues he could vote on. DeMarzo complied and went on an unpaid leave of absence after the 2007 election.

Troiano and Davenport appealed the case, citing that the decision resulted in multiple conflicts of interest. The appeals court agreed with the conflicts of interest, and ruled that DeMarzo had 20 days to choose one job or the other.

DeMarzo then sought to have the case heard by the Supreme Court, which it declined to hear in 2011.

In the meantime, another case was brought against DeMarzo to choose between being a cop and commissioner by Lt. Richard Adair. In this case, Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong ordered that DeMarzo had to make a decision, and in May of 2010 DeMarzo left the police department to keep his job as commissioner.

Now, DeMarzo is again appealing this case to the state Supreme Court. Because Adair has retired, DeMarzo said the city has picked up the case against him.

According to the indictment, DeMarzo requested court approval from Judge Valerie Armstrong to have the city of Wildwood pay for Samuel Lashman to provide his legal service for the conflict of interest case.

Armstrong denied the request, and ruled that DeMarzo’s requested expenses were personal legal expenses. According to the indictment, DeMarzo disregarded that order and approved payment to former city attorney Samuel Lashman with public funds. 

DeMarzo had been charged with two counts of official misconduct, one count of criminal contempt in the fourth degree, and one count of corruption of public resources in the fourth degree, according to the indictment. 

The only new charge was of criminal contempt.

“The state’s third attempt at salvaging some sort of theory of DeMarzo’s criminal culpability is by far the most desperate,” reads the third motion to dismiss that has been sent to Taylor.

Lauren Suit can be e-mailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story online at shorenewstoday.com.


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