Two convicted felons who claimed to be soliciting donations for families of 9/11 victims scammed a host of people, driving around New Jersey in a fire-engine red pickup bearing the names of first responders who died that fateful day and collecting tens of thousands of dollars for themselves, state authorities charged today.
They even got Gov. Chris Christie to pose for a photo with the truck — and Qur’an burner Terry Jones to stand in its bed, a North Jersey website is reporting.
State officials have asked that a judge impound the truck and order Mark Anthony Niemczyk and Thomas J. Scalgione to stop scamming the public with their unregistered charity.
One charity the defendants the duo claimed to support, the Cain Foundation, doesn’t even exist, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.
Rosemary Cain, whose firefighter son died on 9-11, was never contacted by the pair and has no connection to them.
Chiesa called the case “an affront to everyone who remembers the fallen and to the family members who continue to endure pain from the lives that were lost among the first responders at the World Trade Center. It is beyond comprehension that anyone would try to profit themselves under the guise of collecting donations to help the surviving family members of the fallen emergency responders.”
Both men “used a national tragedy to dupe the public,” the attorney general said. “Rather than aiding the families of first responders who perished, [they] are causing additional emotion distress through their alleged avarice and greed.”
State authorities “are the ones trying to run a scam,” Scalgione countered, after being contacted by the Asbury Park Press this afternoon. “We are prepared to fight to clear our names. We are running a legitimate group.”
The National 9/11 Memorial Truck, as it is called, bears the names of the more than 400 first responders who died when the Twin Towers collapsed.
The truck also carries an American flag with the names of all those who died in all the attacks and a “N SEAL” license plate. READ MORE….