Truck allegedly involved in 9/11 charity scam impounded
NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced on Friday that a judge has granted an application to immediately impound a pickup truck that was allegedly being used to solicit donations for a bogus 9/11 charity.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Vincent J. Grasso granted the application submitted by Chiesa and the Division of Consumer Affairs and ordered that the two operators of the truck stop soliciting donations.
Mark Anthony Niemczyk and Thomas J. Scalgione allegedly operated the fake charity by soliciting donations they claimed were for surviving family members of first responders who died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.
"We're pleased that Judge Grasso granted our application for immediate relief pending the final resolution of this case," Chiesa said. "The truck and the two men who we contend defrauded the public are effectively shut down and can no longer use the tragic events of 9/11 to, as we have alleged in our complaint, swindle money from unsuspecting members of the public."
Niemczyk and Scalgione allegedly painted a truck with the names of emergency responders who died when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. The truck is now at a local dealership for servicing and is currently being arranged for impoundment.
The defendants allegedly defrauded donors by using money collected to enrich themselves instead of giving it to the families of 9/11 victims.
Niemczyk, the truck's owner, allegedly falsely told the public he was a former Navy SEAL and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The Tinton Falls resident once obtained a license plate on the truck labeled N-Seal to cement the alleged lie. Niemczyk was convinced of welfare fraud in 1989.
The pending lawsuit against the defendants alleges that Niemczyk and Scalgione committed multiple violations of the Charities Registration and Investigation Act, including the operation of a charity without registration. Niemczyk also allegedly deposited donated funds in his own personal bank account.
None of the organizations the defendants claimed to have given donations to have any records or memory of donations from the defendants. Additionally, the defendants allegedly sold t-shirts with the New York City Fire Department, New York City Police Department and Port Authority Police Department logos to the public at 9/11 memorial events from mid-2011 onward to raise funds. The defendants were not authorized to use the logos.
A complaint from a former New York City police officer initiated the matter after the officer saw the defendants' pickup truck at a Barnegat memorial. The officer researched the defendants to ensure they were operating a legitimate charitable organization, leading to the complaint.