They managed to fool lots of folks, including Governor Chris Christie, who posed with one of the pair of scammers, Anthony Niemczyk. Niemcyzk claimed that he was a Vietnam veteran and was a member of the Navy SEALs. None of that was true.
He was a scammer, as was his cohort Thomas J. Scalgioneo:
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.The duo made money off the 9/11 attacks and benefited from a bogus charity that wasn't registered. Both have a long criminal record to boot:
One cause 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, said she 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."
Niemczyk, r., with Pastor Terry Jones in "The National 9/11 Memorial Truck"
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.
Niemczyk apparently lied about being a graduate of the Naval Academy and having done three Vietnam tours as a Navy SEAL. He also pleaded guilty to welfare fraud in 1989. Scalgione, who said he handled PR for the truck's appearance, has criminal convictions, "including theft, forgery, fraudulent use of credit cards and possession of an emergency communications receiver during the commission of a crime," according to the NJ AG's office.Expect additional charges to be forthcoming for both.