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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

U.S. court affirms conviction, 35-month sentence for Bergen's ex-Democratic boss

Attorney Joseph Ferriero, 60, was the powerful chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization from 1998-2009 (Photo by Amy Newman of The Record).

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

A federal appeals court has upheld the 35-month prison sentence imposed on onetime Democratic boss Joseph Ferriero, who was found guilty in 2015 of bribery, fraud and racketeering charges.

During the seven-week trial, federal prosecutors told jurors Ferriero used his position to "line his pockets."

"Ferriero pushed Democratic officials from Bergen County towns to contract with C3 [Holdings LLC, a software company], and four of the localities on his list eventually did so," Judge Anthony J. Scirica wrote for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

"He was paid thousands of dollars based on those four contracts in checks listing out which payments corresponded to which town," the opinion said.

"But none of the local Democratic officials to whom Ferriero recommended C3 were aware he stood to profit," Scirica wrote.

In his appeal, Ferriero claimed there was insufficient evidence to convict him of bribery or fraud, and argued the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to toss out former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's bribery conviction also cleared him.

But the three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit found that the evidence was sufficient, adding, "Nothing in McDonnell changes the outcome for Ferriero in this case."

The opinion is expected to mean trouble for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who has cited the McDonnell decision in trying to obtain dismissal of federal corruption charges pending against him.