State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) is so upset about what he sees as a lenient sentence for former Newark Mayor and State Senator Sharpe James that he’s fired off a letter to the editor of every daily newspaper in the state.
On Tuesday, James was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and fined $100,000.
Cardinale’s letter contains some criticism of U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini, a former Republican Congressman who presided over the trial and sentencing of James. Cardinale said staffers who reviewed the letter toned down more pointed criticism of the judge.
“It’s struck me that (Martini) has become an enabler, even an apologist for this culture of corruption,” he said in a phone interview.
When asked whether he also planned to send the letter to Martini, Cardinale said “I think I will, now that you mention it.”
Officials in Martini’s office said that they had not received the letter and that it would inappropriate to comment.
Below is the full text of Cardinale’s letter.
In sentencing former Senator Sharpe James this week to only 27 months in prison, Judge Martini railed against prosecutors for seeking the maximum prison term available under the law and characterized input from legislators as “unhelpful” in his determination of the proper punishment for the disgraced official. Martini noted that he was “shocked and disappointed” that prosecutors did not recognize that their jobs were to seek justice as well as prosecutions. The real shock and disappointment, however, is with public officials that fail to recognize the seriousness and harm that public corruption has inflicted on the lives of New Jersey residents.
Through the vigilant efforts of our law enforcement community, hundreds of public officials have been arrested, tried and convicted for defrauding the public. And yet, Governor Corzine continues to nominate and appoint people of questionable character, integrity and qualifications to positions of public trust and responsibility. Legislators extend their “thoughts and prayers” to public officials that get caught with their hand in the till. And now it appears that the infection of complacency to public corruption has tainted the courts.
New Jersey is currently suffering through a course of corruption and fraud by elected officials that threatens people’s confidence in government, drives up property taxes, and encourages a culture of corruption. Until the leaders of this State take a strong stance against this behavior it will continue to plague our communities. Governor Corzine, acting through the Attorney General, must vigorously enforce the law through investigation and prosecution of public corruption. And the Judiciary, both State and Federal, must fully appreciate the impact this disease is having on people’s lives. When presented with a person that has been fairly tried and convicted, it is a moral imperative for the public to witness that public officials are not above the law and will pay the heaviest price for breaking the law and violating their public duties.
Until that time New Jersey will continue to burn as Justice is ignored.