Political Racketeering in New Jerseyby Will Grigg
Nov. 14, 2013
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Mark Halper and his 14 children once ran a dairy farm on 75 acres outside of Piscataway, New Jersey.
In 1999, a clique of local political officials and well-connected business interests staged a brazen land grab in the name of “eminent domain.” The town issued a “taking” in 2004, which led to the family being driven off their farm.
One member of that clique, David D’Amiano, approached Halper in 2005 and tried to extract a $40,000 bribe in exchange for using his influence with then-Governor James McGreevey to increase the amount paid for the farm. Halper recorded the conversation, which was used as evidence by then-US Attorney Chris Christie. D’Amiano was a major fundraiser for McGreevey, and his trial and conviction helped bring down the incumbent governor – and propel Christie into the governor’s mansion.
The amount paid to the Halper family – which has spent millions in legal fees -- was a fraction of what the land was worth. After being seized the property was used as a dumping ground. Cleaning it up will cost at least $1.5 million. Halper says that the family has been abandoned by Christie, who used them as one of many rungs on his political ladder as he climbs to the White House.