ANGELO ERRICHETTI was Camden born and raised, and sadly, is remembered most for his conviction on bribery charges as part of the ABSCAM scandal in the early 1980s. Of the fact that he erred, there is no doubt, however, of the facts regarding the investigative tactics used, and subsequently abandoned, and of the standards to be met to bring a case forward for prosecution being changed after his conviction there is little doubt either.
As of 2013, with the exception of Aaron Thompson, who was utterly marginalized by the Democratic County and City political leadership during his single term, and Gwendolyn Faison, a figurehead mayor at best, no one who has occupied the Mayor's office in Camden has a cleaner record than Mr. Errichetti, and most have been far, far worse.
Camden Courier-Post * October 5, 1966
Photo by Bob Bartosz
KNEELING to hold hose in place, firemen backed off, a moment later as rear of vacant building at 1729 Railroad Avenue caved in during three alarm blaze yesterday. Two persons were hurt. Probe of faulty fire hydrants has been asked.
From Left: Captain Joseph Wolfinger, Albert Jones, William O'Dennis
Camden Courier-Post * March 8, 1967
Left: SEA OF SMOKE engulfs firemen manning hoseline high above general alarm blaze in S. Broadway warehouse. But he's on an aerial ladder, not floating on a space platform.
DENSE SMOKE from flame-swept warehouse on S. Broadway hinders fireman in
general alarm blaze last night.
Corradetti - Broadway
John Luciani - Richard Hailey - Louis Iatarola - Carolyn Iatarola - Lena Iatorola
Thomas Penn - Theodore Primas - Edward V. Michalak
Angelo Errichetti - Anthony Saponare - Williams Street
|Angelo Erichetti & Family at Longport, New Jersey - circa 1972|
|Uncle Eric, my dad, my uncle Chris, and my Pop. Taken on the dock in my back yard in Longport, circa 1972. - Nancy Slagle - August 2018|
|Camden Courier-Post * June 27, 1974|
|Kind & Knox Gelatin Co. - Peter Cooper Corporations - Angelo Errichetti|
Philadelphia Inquirer - May 19, 2013
Angelo Errichetti dies; ex-Camden mayor was Abscam figure
Angelo J. Errichetti, 84, a former Camden mayor and state senator who was South Jersey's premier Democratic power broker in the decade before his 1981 bribery conviction in the Abscam scandal, has died after a long illness. He had been living in Ventnor, N.J.
During two mayoral terms, starting in 1973, he built a reputation as an unflagging booster for his hometown, where his father, a Neapolitan immigrant, stoked coal at the shipyard to feed seven children.
Mr. Errichetti's efforts to revive Camden's moribund economy were said to occupy 12 hours on a typical day, yet he took on a second office simultaneously. In 1976, he was chosen to fill a vacancy in the Senate, and he ran for and won a full term the next year.
His story will be told in the film American Hustle, scheduled for release in December. He will be portrayed by Jeremy Renner in the movie about Abscam, which also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro.
"He exemplified what a mayor should be," said Richard Cinaglia, whom Mr. Errichetti appointed as the city's comptroller and director of finance. "He was passionate about Camden and gave everybody a sense that the city was coming back."
Former Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, who was a PTA parent and committeewoman when Mr. Errichetti urged her toward city government, noted his "real compassion" for his constituents.
"I learned [from him] to love the people," said Faison, who spent 16 years on City Council and nine as mayor.
Mr. Errichetti was a "significant mentor and friend," said George E. Norcross III, chairman of Cooper University Hospital in Camden, a Democratic Party leader, and a managing partner of Interstate General Media, owner of The Inquirer.
"Having known him from the time I was a teenager, he was a larger-than-life political and governmental leader in this region and the state," said Norcross, whose younger brother, Donald, now holds the Senate seat Mr. Errichetti once occupied.
"I would say his political genius was, in part, the reason southern New Jersey was the beneficiary of many initiatives during his tenure in government," George Norcross said.
"He had much to do with public transportation funds, funds for universities, particularly Rutgers in Camden, and he was in part responsible for the medical school in Camden," Norcross said. "He made South Jersey relevant in the state, and his governmental and political relationships allowed him to be successful."
However, Mr. Errichetti's career in elected office, indeed in South Jersey politics, ended ignominiously. He was the first figure to emerge, red-handed on tape, in the 23-month FBI sting known as Abscam, short for "Abdul scam" after a fictitious company name.
He served as the unwitting liaison between federal agents masquerading as wealthy Arabs and public officials on the take. The fake sheikhs gave them hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for their influence in purported U.S. investments.
In the first of a few appearances before the FBI's hidden cameras, Mr. Errichetti accepted a $25,000 cash down payment on a $400,000 fee to pull strings on projects involving a New Jersey casino and the Camden seaport.
During the Abscam trials of 1980 and '81, Mr. Errichetti was among 19 men convicted, including six House members and U.S. Sen. Harrison A. Williams (D., N.J.). Sentenced to six years in prison for bribery and conspiracy, Mr. Errichetti was paroled after 32 months at a federal reformatory in Connecticut, where he roomed with the Unification Church leader the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Of the Abscam defendants, "I was first in and last out," the perennially dapper Mr. Errichetti quipped to reporters upon his release in 1986 at age 57.
"I'm free and clear in every respect. . . . Whatever grandiose power I had or did not have, it's over. I regret my involvement and the mistake I made," he said.
Any mistakes were history Friday as Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at all municipal buildings on the day of the funeral, which had not yet been announced. "Today we mourn the loss of a dear friend and a true Camden gentleman," she said.
"He treated everybody he encountered in a warm and personal manner and he strongly believed in making sure our residents were engaged in governmental and community activities," she said.
Born into Depression-era poverty, Mr. Errichetti attended Camden High School, where he gained a measure of celebrity as an all-state football halfback. He briefly took courses at Rutgers University.
After working in a family dry-cleaning store and running a real estate and insurance business, Mr. Errichetti signed on as a seaman with the Coast Guard.
By 1961, he had gotten his first tantalizing taste of politics as administrative assistant to Mayor Alfred Pierce, and he never looked back. He soon was appointed the city's purchasing agent, and in 1965, public works director. That year he became Camden's Democratic chairman, a seat he held until 1981.
"I would say his greatest achievement was prior to becoming mayor, when he was instrumental and played a major role in quelling rioting in Camden, and bridging the gap between the African American and Latino communities," George Norcross said.
Elected mayor in 1973, Mr. Errichetti immersed himself in a mission to reverse the fading fortunes of the city of 100,000 people and shrinking. For seven years, he submitted budgets without tax increases.
"I thought we should increase taxes, and he absolutely refused to do it. . . . People loved him," Cinaglia said.
When Mr. Errichetti ran for a second term in 1977, voters rewarded him with an 88 percent landslide victory.
In the wake of Abscam, Mr. Errichetti resigned his Senate seat and his grip on local politics slipped.
In recent years, Faison said, she met Mr. Errichetti at an event and was impressed with how he had put Abscam behind him. "He seemed to get over it," she said, "and was ready to be with people again."
Mr. Errichetti is survived by a daughter, Michele. He was predeceased by his wife, Dolores.
Inquirer staff writer Kathleen Tinney contributed to this article..
Philadelphia Inquirer - May 20, 2013
Mayor Errichetti Returns To Work After Being Convicted
New York Times - May 20, 2013
Angelo J. Errichetti, 84, Camden
Angelo J. Errichetti, a former two-term mayor of Camden, N.J., whose career as a state Democratic power broker ended in the early 1980s when he was ensnared in the Congressional corruption scandal known as Abscam and served nearly three years in prison, died on May 16 at home in Ventnor, N.J. He was 84.
His death was confirmed by his daughter, Michele.
A native of Camden, Mr. Errichetti (pronounced err-ih-KEH-tee) took office in 1973, two years after race riots had torn apart the city. He was credited with easing racial tensions and hailed as a tireless advocate for his beleaguered hometown, a once-thriving manufacturing center whose long decline he was unable to stop.
“When I was running the city, we had no money, and I was putting out fires from riots,” he said to a reporter from The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, N.J., in 2003.
Mayor Errichetti was hugely popular, endearing himself to the city’s low-income population in particular by refusing to raise taxes. For his second term he was re-elected with more than 80 percent of the vote. After his death, the current mayor, Dana Redd, ordered that flags at city buildings be flown at half-staff in his honor.
Mr. Errichetti, who was also a state senator from 1976 to 1981 — he served in both jobs simultaneously — was among the most influential politicians in southern New Jersey. It was his wielding of that influence that led to his downfall.
The scandal grew from an F.B.I. investigation into political corruption beginning in 1978, when agents posing as wealthy Arabs and their representatives sought to grease the palms of public officials. Mr. Errichetti was caught on hidden cameras serving as an intermediary between the undercover agents and a Pennsylvania congressman, Michael J. Myers, and visiting the Long Island office of a bogus company, Abdul Enterprises Ltd., to pick up money. (Abscam is a contraction of “Abdul” and “scam.”)
The sting operation lasted two years and led to the conviction of 19 men, including Mr. Myers, five other congressmen and Senator Harrison A. Williams Jr. of New Jersey, whom Mr. Errichetti had introduced to the agents. Mr. Errichetti was sentenced to six years in prison on bribery and conspiracy charges and served 32 months.
“I can only blame myself for the tremendous ego I developed, the kind of ego that gets a politician into trouble,” he said after his release in March 1986.
Angelo Joseph Errichetti was born in Camden on Sept. 28, 1928. His father, Angelo, who stoked coal for a living, and his mother, Angela, were immigrants from Naples. Young Angelo played football at Camden High School and attended West Nottingham Academy in Maryland. He took night classes at Rutgers University, worked for a time in a brother’s dry-cleaning business and enlisted in the Coast Guard. Before embarking on public life, his daughter said, he worked in real estate and insurance.
Mr. Errichetti entered Camden politics in 1961 as an administrative assistant to the mayor, Alfred R. Pierce. He later served as the city’s purchasing agent and director of public works and became chairman of the Camden Democratic Committee.
Mr. Errichetti’s wife, the former Dolores T. Mills, died in 2005. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a sister, Dolores DiLorenzo, and two grandchildren.
After his release from prison, Mr. Errichetti worked as a consultant in real estate and other businesses.
A movie inspired by Abscam, “American Hustle,” with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, is scheduled to open this year. A character a lot like Mr. Errichetti is played by Jeremy Renner..
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