NBC 4 New York
Key evidence in the alleged 9/11 charity scam in New Jersey surfaces. Brian Thompson reports.
New Jersey has sued two state residents, claiming they collected tens of thousands of dollars in donations for a bogus 9/11 charity.
In the lawsuit filed Monday in Superior Court, the Attorney General's Office claims 66-year-old Mark Niemczyk of Tinton Falls and 40-year-old Thomas Scalgione of Manahawkin used the money they raised for their own personal gain. It also alleges that the pair — who both have criminal records — failed to register the charity as required by state law.
The two men have driven throughout the state in a pickup truck painted with the names of first responders who died in the terrorist attacks. Niemczyk claimed to be an ex-Navy SEAL while he solicited donations.
"This is un-American," said FDNY veteran Joe Turillo, an actual 9/11 survivor. "This is not who we are in this country."
When NBC 4 New York inadvertently stopped Niemczyk without recognizing him at his apartment complex in Tinton Falls Monday, Niemczyk spoke about himself in the third person.
"Whatever money I know he collects goes out," he said.
Chiesa called Niemczyk's act "really reprehensible behavior, preying on the memories of the heroes who responded to the 9/11 tragedy."
Niemczyk's bogus operation was revealed over a year ago in a YouTube video posted by a real ex-SEAL, Don Shipley.
Niemczyk apparently managed to fool even Gov. Chris Christie, who took a picture with him and the pickup truck in the background.
Christie said Tuesday it was an "occupational hazard," explaining he gets his picture taken with hundreds of people weekly.
He called the scam "one of the most awful things anybody can do in this region."
Attorney General Jeff Chiesa is asking the court to impound the truck and order an end to the solicitations.
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