‘This is dirty Hudson County politics’
Young politico found not guilty of charge, but judge says ‘I think you lied’
by Stephen LaMarca
Reporter Staff Writer
Jun 10, 2012 | 5161 views | 13 13 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Matt Calicchio outside the Union City courthouse.
view slideshow (2 images)

A controversial trial involving two members of Hoboken’s contentious political arena was finally heard in Union City Municipal Court on Thursday.

The trial took place after Board of Education member and Mayor Dawn Zimmer ally Theresa Minutillo filed harassment charges in October against Matt Calicchio, a political operative who has worked for Zimmer’s opposition.

Union City Judge Sixto Macias found on Thursday that Calicchio was “not guilty” of the harassment charge, but Marcias also said he did not believe the testimony of both Calicchio and his witness.

The trial date had been rescheduled from last month.

Macias did not shy away from acknowledging the political undertones of the matter. Indeed, Calicchio testified that he is an employee of Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason’s “civic league.” Mason is a vocal opponent of Mayor Zimmer.
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“Even though politics is a very difficult assignment in Hudson County, not everything is acceptable conduct.” – Prosecutor James Coviello
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This is not the first court battle between Calicchio and allies of the Zimmer administration. When Zimmer was running for council in 2007, Calicchio and Zimmer exchanged charges after Calicchio took a picture of Zimmer walking her dog.

Minutillo said that Calicchio harassed her while she was picking up her daughter from kindergarten at Wallace Elementary School Oct. 18. According to Minutillo, Calicchio allegedly yelled, “I’m coming after you; April is around the corner,” referring to the school board election. (That election was eventually changed to this coming November.) Calicchio was allegedly on school grounds at the time.

Tanya Garcia – a witness for the defense – testified that Calicchio would often accompany her as she picked up her son from the school, and her son shares a class with Minutillo’s daughter.

Garcia also testified that both she and Calicchio worked for the Mason Family Civic League, including the affiliated Gallery 1200, an art gallery owned by Mason on Washington Street.

Macias said he believed Minutillo’s testimony that Calicchio did allegedly shout the alleged remarks, despite Calicchio’s testimony that he did not speak to Minutillo. However, Macias ruled that the remarks did not constitute a criminal charge of harassment because Minutillo is a public figure.

‘Somebody here is lying’

After contradictory testimony from Minutillo, Garcia, and Calicchio, Union City Prosecutor James Coviello said, “Somebody here is lying. There are people that took the stand today and lied.”

Coviello took exception to the testimony of Garcia, who testified that she did not see Minutillo on Oct. 18, even though she said she was with Calicchio, who said he did see Minutillo. Garcia said she wasn’t familiar with Minutillo.

She also said that she began employment with the Mason Civic League in January 2012. She later said that she had been volunteering for the civic league and gallery since last fall.

“Where does the truth begin and where does it end?” asked Coviello. “[Garcia] is clearly a political player in this as well. The court recognizes it; we all recognize it: this is dirty Hudson County politics.”

Macias soon echoed Coviello’s sentiments.

“I am really taken aback by the testimony of Mrs. Garcia,” said Macias. “It’s completely incorrect. I do not believe one word of what she told us. I think if you [Calicchio] are going to bring somebody to court to testify on your behalf, you should at least get your stories together.”

Macias specifically said he had problems with Garcia testifying that she did not see Minutillo.

“[It’s] not credible,” said Macias, adding that he believed Minutillo’s testimony to be true.

“I don’t believe the defendant [Calicchio] or Mrs. Garcia,” said Macias, adding that he believed Calicchio was being, in general, “used” for political purposes in exchange for a job.

“People openly lied [here],” Macias said later during the hearing, “which is worse than a harassment charge.” He later added, “I find you not guilty but I think you lied.”

But in explaining the verdict, Macias said, “Mrs. Minutillo should have known what she was getting into when she ran for the board of education in Hoboken.” He later added, “You’re a public figure and we live in a democracy where we can voice our disgust or other way of thinking to another person [involved in politics].”

Aftermath

After the trial, Coviello said that the judge had to make a tough decision due to the contradicting testimonies.

“I think the judge made a very, very difficult decision and I think it was a fair decision,” said Coviello. “Hopefully the parties learn that even though politics is a very difficult assignment in Hudson County, not everything is acceptable conduct.”

Coviello also said that the “case is done,” and there will be no followup to investigate possible perjury, despite the judge’s charges that two parties were lying.

Minutillo released a statement to The Reporter describing her opinion of the ruling as “unfortunate” due to the judge’s belief that Calicchio’s alleged behavior did not meet the standard for criminal behavior.

“It is my hope that my daughter and I can now continue to walk to school and [throughout] Hoboken without being accosted by this or any other individual,” said Minutillo. “I wish the same for everyone else.”

Calicchio declined a request for a comment. DiNardo and Mason did not return phone calls for comment.

Several members of the school board were subpoenaed for the trial but were not called to testify, including Irene Sobolov, and Vice President Ruth McAllister. School board member Leon Gold and Zoning Board member Nancy Pincus were also sent subpoenas, according to the defense, but both said they never actually received them.

Stephen LaMarca may be reached at slamarca@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
(13)
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Smartyjones
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June 11, 2012
Many people asking for more on the judge's comments too. Did the judge make reference and use the word "bullying."

Months ago, MSV reported Matt Calicchio was on the Beth Mason payroll. We now have the details but it's only the beginning of what we're learning on the Mason Civic League:

Loads of political operatives on the payroll doing political not civic work:

http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2012/06/tax-exempt-beth-and-ricky-mason-civic.html

A legal problem of immense proportions.

eyefartAlotz
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June 11, 2012
why must you plug your site on every single comment you make? Are you that hard up for readers? How many user names do you have too on patch and your site? 10,15,20? I sure hope Dawn isn't paying you with good oats.
Smartyjones
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June 12, 2012
Brainfart, are you the self-appointed Stalinesque censor for all of Hoboken. Are you going to tell everyone what they can and can't write, the First Amendment notwithstanding.

You must have thought you were at Hoboken411 where fascist censorship prevails. It's thattaway >>>>>>

There's tens of thousands reading MSV every month.

Chew on that brainfart, you're shooting blanks and are obviously brain dead.

MSV will be following up on this story and has more on the Mason Civic League legal problems.

http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2012/06/more-irs-problems-uncovered-with-beth.html

Enjoy! Keep reading not whining/lying.
MidtownFan
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June 12, 2012
Seemed to me he was criticizing you but not saying you don't have the right to say what you want. If criticizing means censorship, then you are in turn trying to censor him. As far as I can tell your blog never publishes articles criticizing City Hall and my guess is you won't ever allow those to be published since you never have, just like Stalin would not allow criticism of his government.

Eyefarts is a moron but I agree with him here.
Smartyjones
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June 12, 2012
Actually MSV opposes censorship in all its forms and always has but that's a simple statement of fact.

Guess you missed the recent criticism on citywide parking meters, fyi MSV is against them.

MSV invites articles from all points of view and ran several by one police officer against the Administration during the union negotiations.

Guess you missed that too.

We also ran the PBA's statement earlier this year criticizing the Administration.

If you or anyone wish to submit an article, please feel free to do so to smartyjones@me.com.

And of course anyone can criticize anyone they wish on any policy they like on MSV, but that's not news.

Da Horsey, SmartyJones

The Hudson Mile Square View

http://hobokenhorse.com

Grafix_Avenger
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June 11, 2012
I want to compliment LaMarca on a thorough, balanced piece. And for the record, none of us were subpoenaed (Mitchell, Gold nor I), DiNardo announced in court we were 'potential witnesses' to get us out of the room. I objected (as did Gold) and told the judge I was not subpoenaed or notified. We still had to leave. DiNardo cleared the courtroom of all Minutillo's supporters -except for the one who took copious notes.

Next subject. LaMarca writes:

"Indeed, Calicchio testified that he is an employee of Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason’s “civic league.”"



With his testimony, Calicchio opened up a Pandora's box of systematic tax evasion and misuse of taxpayer funds by Beth and Ricky Mason's 501(c)(3) corporation... GA's super-sleuth discovered a 'surprise' member on their Board of Directors.

Read it here:

http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2012/06/bombshell-mason-finboy-non-profit-sham.html
Logic2226
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June 15, 2012
Breaking News on CNN tonight @ 11PM with Grafix Avenger..."bombshell story". LOL!! You are a complete joke. Let's break you down...you openly admit to have a convict friend which is great company for a zoning board member to keep. You previously made a Nazi reference toward Beth Mason. You purposely look to destroy the lives of others with your crappy blog. You make accusations of stalking, but yet spend every free second you have trying to harass a select group of people with your blog. Honestly how do you sleep at night knowing that you are such a fraud. Your day will come and karma will stick it right in Nancy Pincus's ugly a**.
WESTY
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June 10, 2012
Your cyber stalking is getting more than a little creepy.

Do you have any opinions of your own on any of these stories or do you just feel to need to harass ?

MidtownFan
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June 10, 2012
I'm starting to find him pretty funny. I think he shines a light on the fact that you post sometimes five comments in a row in order to hassle the newspaper and anyone else. Talk about pot calling kettle black.
WESTY
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June 10, 2012
I can understand why the usually highly vocal Beth Mason and her employees, Matt Calicchio and Elise DiNardo were not returning phone calls.

Nothing could have been said by any of them that would have helped Mason politically in this shamefull mess and that apparently is all they seem to be their only concerned.
CommentGrader
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June 10, 2012
Hello WESTY,

This comment needs a lot of work. I'm disappointed that you seem to have taken a step backward since our last discussion.

The first sentence is missing a comma. Also, there is a verb tense issue in the latter half of the first sentence. It should have been written as follows:

"I can understand why the usually highly vocal Beth Mason and her employees, Matt Calicchio and Elise DiNardo, did not return phone calls."

The second sentence is also very poorly written. Here is how it should have been written:

"Nothing could have been said that would help Mason politically in this shamefull mess, which seems to be her only concern."

Final Grade: D-

I expect to see better comments in the near future. Hoboken deserves better.

WESTY
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June 10, 2012
CommentGrader,

Your fixation with commenting on only my posts is bordering on harassment.

Do you have any opinions of your own on anything other than the composition of my posts ?

I hope you have more to offer than the pettiness you have been posting.

greenshirt
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June 10, 2012
Too bad we missed the judge's more colorful remarks about the testimony of Beth Mason's employees being "garbage," and what was done to a mom and her little girl "bullying?"

But hey, this Beth Mason's dirty politics. At least we can all agree on that.

So I guess we won't be seeing any more letters from Ricky Mason, Mason's husband and checkbook to the sewer feigning victimhood about leaving children out of it. If your employee can verbally scream at a mom with her five year old when she's picking up the child at school, then what's left?

Beth Mason, destroying decency with every single breath she takes in the mile square.

Hey Beth, look how disgusting you are!

Ricky and your daughters must be so proud of you.