Two New Jersey men who admitted operating a bogus 9/11 charity that collected donations using a truck painted with the twin towers and names of rescuers who died at ground zero have been indicted on conspiracy and theft by deception charges.
Prosecutors say Thomas Scalgione, 41, of Stafford Township and Mark Niemczyk, 66, of Tinton Falls brought the custom-painted pickup truck to public events, where they sold T-shirts featuring the logos of the NYPD and FDNY. But they never gave any of the proceeds, which totaled more than $50,000, to the victims' families or to 9/11 charities as promised, authorities said.
The charges stem from an investigation the state conducted last year, which led to the men entering into a consent judgment that barred the men from charity work.
Niemczyk is also accused of failing to file a personal state income tax return in 2011. Authorities say he collected thousands of dollars in proceeds at 9/11 events in 2011 and won $55,000 at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City in September 2011 that he was required to report.
The indictment was handed up Friday by a state grand jury and was made public Monday.
"It's a sad reality that in the wake of a devastating tragedy, when so many want to help, there are always parasites who view the tragedy and the generosity of others as nothing more than the opportunity and the means to turn a crooked profit for themselves," Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said. "The conduct of these two men wasn't just despicable, it was criminal, and we are bringing them to justice."