NEWARK, N.J. — A federal appeals court on Friday rejected the attempt of a former Democratic party boss to have his corruption conviction thrown out.
Joseph Ferriero headed the Bergen County Democratic Organization for about 10 years beginning in the late 1990s and was considered one of New Jersey’s most powerful party bosses.
He was charged in 2013 with using his position and power to run bribery and kickback schemes involving municipal contracts, and using his influence to get a developer a contract for a long-delayed megamall project at the Meadowlands sports complex.
After an eight-week trial in 2015, a jury convicted him on racketeering, wire fraud and bribery counts but acquitted him of conspiracy to promote bribery and mail fraud.
Jurors couldn’t come to a decision on whether Ferriero’s acts stemming from the mall project were part of a larger pattern of racketeering; they agreed that several other acts did qualify.
In his appeal, Ferriero argued the evidence presented at trial didn’t support a conviction and that applicable laws, particularly New Jersey’s bribery statutes, were vague. He also argued that language in the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal last year of the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell bolstered his appeal.
In a ruling published Friday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected those arguments, writing of McDonnel v United States that “we find nothing in that opinion that changes the outcome of this case.”
Ferriero reported to prison last year to start serving a 35-month sentence.