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Manahawkin Man Sued For Allegedly Operating Bogus 9/11 Charity

Tinton Falls man also sued for his part in alleged scheme

Two convicted felons, including a Manahawkin man, defrauded the public by falsely soliciting donations for surviving family members of Sept. 11 victims, according to a lawsuit filed by the state Attorney General's Office.

The two men were accused of driving around in a pickup truck painted with the names of first responders who perished in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Thomas J. Scalgione, 40, of Manahawkin and Mark Anthony Niemczyk, 66, of Tinton Falls have been sued for allegedly operating an unregistered charity, according to a release from the attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office has requested that the court order the immediate impounding of Niemczyk's pickup truck to stop soliciting donations from the public, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a release.

“The alleged actions of the defendants is an affront to everyone who remembers the fallen and to the family members who continue to endure pain from the lives that were lost among the first responders at the World Trade Center,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “It is beyond comprehension that anyone would try to profit themselves under the guise of collecting donations to help the surviving family members of the fallen emergency responders.”

Niemczyk allegedly lied to the people he solicited by telling them he was a former Navy SEAL and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and at one time had a license plate on the pickup truck reading “N-Seal”. Niemczyk pleaded guilty in 1989 to committing welfare fraud.

Scalgione allegedly claims to handle public relations for truck appearances and has several criminal convictions, including theft, forgery, fraudulent use of credit cards and possession of an emergency communications receiver during the commission of a crime, according to the release.

Niemczyk and Scalgione also allegedly have been selling T-shirts with New York City Police and Fire Department and Port Authority Police Department logos at 9/11 memorial events since mid-2011 to raise funds for their charity.

The release states that both were not authorized to use the logos and that they allegedly also had a collection jug for cash donations when they attended events with the truck.

A former New York City police officer filed a complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs in May, 2012, after seeing Niemczyk’s pickup truck at a World Trade Center memorial service in Barnegat.

"After doing some research, she had concerns about whether Niemczyk and Scalgione were operating a legitimate charitable organization," the release states.

The attorney general’s 3-count complaint was filed in State Superior Court in Ocean County and contends that Niemczyk and Scalgione committed multiple violations of the State’s Charities Registration and Investigation Act.

A review of financial records revealed that donated funds were commingled in Niemczyk’s personal bank account and that none of the organizations the defendants claimed to have sent donations to had any records or memory of receiving donations from the defendants.

"The defendants allegedly raised tens of thousands of dollars through public donations and the case has been referred for possible criminal prosecution in addition to the filed civil complaint," the release states.

The Cain Foundation, one charity the defendants claimed to support, does not exist, according to the release. Rosemary Cain, whose firefighter son died on 9-11, was never contacted by Niemczyk or Scalgione and has no connection to them.

The court hearing on the attorney general’s request to impound the truck and to stop the defendants from soliciting donations is scheduled for Friday, August 3, at 10 a.m.

Deputy Attorney General Anna M. Lascurain of the Charities Regulation and Investigation Section within the Division of Law is representing the State in the case, according to the release. Chief Investigator Lawrence J. Biondo and Investigators Raquel L. Williams and Patrick Mullan in the Division of Consumer Affairs' Office of Consumer Protection, Charities Enforcement Unit, conducted the investigation.

The attorney general's office is asking people who believe they may have been defrauded by Niemczyk or Scalgione to file complaints with the Division of Consumer Affairs. A complaint form is available online at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov  and complaints may be registered by calling the Division at 800-242-5846 or at 973-504-6200.

Fred Jones, Sr. July 31, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I guess it's obvious to most, but for your sake proud, that's what's called a rhetorical question. Everyone knows the answer already, it's just meant to make you think...unsuccessfully it seems. I still haven't read any real sensible justification for your comment however.
proud July 31, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Fred Sr, I have no intention of arguing with you or responding to your assumptions or mud slinging. That type of thing is best left to yourself, tonio and your ilk. If I were to do so, the visitors would be unable to discern who is whom, and I prefer to sleep in a clean bed.
Fred Jones, Sr. July 31, 2012 at 09:12 PM
There wasn't any mud-slinging, and I'm not sure why you lump me in with other posters but ok proud. It must be nice to just go around making ridiculous comments, then never back them up with any effective or justifiable reason when questioned. What was I thinking? Who asks a person why they say things...outrageous. Your assumption was what started this discussion, remember that pal.
Felicia Massari July 31, 2012 at 09:27 PM
The term here used is "allegedly". All things must play out in court. Even with histories of wrongdoing, to judge now is presumptuous. This is so volatile a subject because of the very nature of what happened eleven years ago...to think individuals or groups could prey on our need to support the 9/11 victims' families...it does inflame us. I hope that the the truth, whatever it is, is so evident that there will be no more need for speculation, and that all can be at peace with the court's decision(s).
julieanne willitts August 05, 2012 at 10:32 PM
scum is even to good of a word to describe them! PLAIN & SIMPLE SCAM ARTIST! THEY USED EVERYONE THEY CAME INTO CONTACT WITH & PULLED ON OUR HEART STRINGS KNOWING THAT THE ONE THING PPL IN THIS NATION WILL DO IS TO HELP THE FAMILIES & FRIENDS THAT LOST SOMEONE ON THAT HORRIFIC DAY! PATHETIC AND I DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR THEM OR THEIR FAMILIES CAUSE THEY HAD TO HAVE KNOWN WHAT THEY WERE DOING AS WELL! MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE FAMILIES OF 9/11

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