Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw, Jr was nominated by Governor Chris Christie to become a Superior Court Judge on June 14. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold his confirmation hearing today. He is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate before the end of the week, ending his 18 month tenure as county prosecutor.
First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni is expected to be nominated to replace Warshaw as the chief prosecutor in Monmouth County. Word in the legal community is that Gramiccioni, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney under Christie, was the governor’s first choice to become Monmouth County Prosecutor in 2010 but that he was 18 months short of the residency requirements.
Former Monmouth County Sheriff Joe Oxley, also former Monmouth GOP Chairman, was nominated to the Court on May 14. Oxley’s confirmation has yet to be scheduled by the Democratically controlled Judiciary Committee, due in part to a Star Ledger report that federal informant Soloman Dwek accused Oxley, Senator Joe Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin of trading favors for campaign contributions.
Dwek’s allegations were revealed in discovery documents in the civil case of former Hudson County Assemblyman Louis Manzo who unsuccessly sued the U.S. Attorney’s office to recover $100K in legal fees that resulted Manzo’s 2009 Operation Bid Rig indictments. Manzo was accused under the Hobbs Act of accepting bribes from Dwek in exchange for future help in zoning and permit applications should Manzo be elected Jersey City Mayor. Manzo was running for Mayor for the fifth time when the alleged bribe occurred. Federal Judge Jose Linares threw out the charges on the basis that the Hobbs Act applied only to elected officials, not candidates. The Appellate Court affirmed Linares’ ruling.
The discovery documents in Manzo’s civil case miraculously found their way to the Star Ledger in what Kyrillos called an “oppo (opposition research) dump” by U. S. Senator Robert Menedez’s reelection campaign. Kyrillos is the GOP nominee to unseat Menendez and a minority member of the State Senate Judiciary Committee which reviews judicial nominations.
Expect the Judiciary Committee to schedule Oxley’s confirmation hearing in September or October as the general election campaign is heating up. Democratic Senator Ray Lesniak has called for Dwek, who is in federal prison, to testify at Oxley’s hearing. That would put Kyrillos, as a member of the committee and also accused by Dwek of trading favors for contributions, in a hot seat at the height of the U.S. Senate campaign.
In another potential twist in this tangled web, Gramiccioni was one of the federal prosecutors working on the Bid Rig investigations, including Manzo’s, according to Bob Ingle and Michael Symons in Chris Christie: The Inside Story Of His Rise To Power (page 90). Should Gramiccioni be nominated Monmouth County Prosecutor, as expected, his nomination will also be subject to a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Gramiccioni’s wife, Deborah, is Governor Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Liason.