Judge calls bias claims frivolous

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Garofolo stays in DeMarzo indictment case, will decide whether to dismiss in January

WILDWOOD — Superior Court Judge Albert Garofolo will rule in January if an indictment charging former Wildwood Mayor Gary DeMarzo with official misconduct should be dismissed.

Despite County Prosecutor Robert Taylor’s argument that Garofolo had already prejudged the case and favored the defense, the judge would not recuse himself.

Garofolo asked Taylor, “Where's the bias?”

Garofolo pointed to his lack of familiarity with DeMarzo and politics in Cape May County. He called Taylor’s claim of bias frivolous.

“In his latest act of desperation, Mr. Taylor implied that a Judge of Superior Court, with more than 23 years of experience on the bench, was incompetent and biased,” DeMarzo said after the judge’s ruling. “Judge Garafolo ruled that he had no conflict of interest, will remain as presiding judge, and that Mr. Taylor’s accusations were simply frivolous.”

Taylor said he would not comment on the matter until Garofolo made his ruling in January.

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 said it was Taylor’s “third trumped-up case against me over $346.”

Samuel Lashman served as a confidential aide for DeMarzo and completed legal work related to a lawsuit he filed against Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., Commissioner Bill Davenport, attorney Marcus Karavan and the city, the indictment states.

The total expense was $346.

DeMarzo’s defense attorney Louis Barbone argued that the three-member City Commission lawfully authorized the addition of $20,000 into the Revenue and Finance Department budget, which DeMarzo headed in 2009, for Lashman’s services.

First Assistant Prosecutor Rob Johnson, however, said the $20,000 entitled DeMarzo to a personal aide and not an attorney to represent him in personal matters.

Johnson said DeMarzo also disobeyed Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong’s ruling that DeMarzo had to pay for legal counsel himself and she would not order the city to pay for those legal expenses.

Taylor said he wanted to get the case to a trial and the facts should be considered by a jury. The issue, he said, was about authorization.

“Was Mr. DeMarzo authorized to spend city money for his personal lawyer for his personal defense?” he asked.

“His sole purpose was to personally silence me as mayor and scare anyone else into compliance,” DeMarzo said of Taylor.

DeMarzo claims that Taylor wanted to silence him regarding an alleged excessive-force case involving Wildwood police Capt. Robert Regalbuto because he “sought the truth in the cover-up of a beating of a double-handcuffed prisoner at the hands of a Wildwood police officer.”

“This beating resulted in nothing being done by the Cape May County Prosecutor nor any other elected Wildwood politician or the police administration,” DeMarzo said.

During his time as mayor, DeMarzo tried to get from the prosecutor’s office a videotape of the interaction between Regalbuto and a suspect that was filmed in Wildwood, but a court ruling found the tape should not be turned over to him.

The taped incident did not result in any criminal charges or disciplinary action against Regalbuto, who was a police sergeant at the time.

“I will soon be vindicated and I will not rest until Bob Taylor is thrown out of office and disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct,” DeMarzo said in a written statement. “A deep-probing civil trial will commence as will the execution of every legally conceivable method to have Mr. Taylor removed from public service, disbarred from the legal profession, and held monetarily and criminally responsible for what he did to me, my family and the citizens of this great county.”

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

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