By Art Gallagher
Is New Jersey the next Delaware? That’s the question Politickernj raised earlier this week regarding the 2012 U.S. Senate race in NJ. Politckernj is wondering if the 2012 U.S. Senate race in New Jersey will be similar to the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Delaware.
The short answer to that question is no. An incumbent was not running in Delaware in 2010. 2012 is a presidential year. 2012 will not be a repeat of 2010. New Jersey is not Delaware. More on that later.
As you might imagine, I have a unique perspective about the differences between New Jersey and Delaware, which is not related to electoral politics. If you’re a reader of this site or The Asbury Park Press, you’re probably aware that I was arrested in my home in Highlands after 10PM on Friday October 14 on a fugitive warrant out of Delaware. I’ve been charged with two felony counts of theft over $100,000 and two misdemeanor counts of forgery. The charges will not be further discussed on this site, other than to say that I am confident of a favorable outcome.
The real reason I was arrested on a fugitive warrant is that the Delaware attorney I had engaged to arrange my surrender in Delaware failed to communicate with the investigating detective in a timely manner. I have a different attorney now.
3 hours vs. 3 weeks
So far the biggest difference between my experiences in New Jersey and Delaware is time. I arrived, as scheduled, to surrender in Delaware this Wednesday at 11am and was on my way home by 2PM. As in Monmouth County, most of that time was spent waiting.
I wasn’t handcuffed, patted down or locked up in Delaware. The actual processing, (being photographed, finger printed and signing some papers) took about 10 minutes. Then my attorney and I hung out until the fugitive warrant was removed from the system. We waited for a Justice of the Peace to finish his lunch and to appear via video for my bail hearing. The video bail hearing took less than five minutes. My bail was set at $12,000.
Technically, I was detained until my family members posted my bail. But I wasn’t really detained. My attorney and I waited in the lobby of the police station for the bail to be posted. I was even allowed to step outside of the building for a smoke, twice.
After about 40 minutes, I signed the bail receipt and was released from my detention in the lobby. It took about a ½ hour to meet up with my family members who had posted my bail. The clock in the car read 1:46 and we were on our way home.
That entire experience is very different than what I experienced in New Jersey.
At about 10PM on Friday October 14 I was arrested at my home in Highlands. I was frisked and handcuffed.
At the Highlands police station I asked to call an attorney. “We’re not questioning you. We’ll let you call your attorney when we know what you can tell him,” was the reply. I was photographed by the arresting officer twice. My belt, shoes, cash, wallet and blackberry were confiscated and I was put into a cell.
A few hours later a sergeant came into the holding area to tell me what was going on. A Monmouth County judge had set my bail at $250,000 with no 10% option. “But there’s really no bail,” he said, “even if you post the $250,000 the fugitive warrant is still in place and you’ll be arrested again.” “Your wife called, we’ll let you call her back in the morning before we transfer you to the county jail.” “What are the charges?” I asked. “Some kind of theft,” was his answer.
I managed to get some sleep on the thin plastic mattress and with the lights on. In the morning an officer sat with me while I called my wife from a police station line that was being recorded. I was given access to my blackberry to read her phone numbers for my attorney, family members and friends that she should call. I sent a text to my attorney.
Then I was transferred to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution where I spent the next three weeks.
$12,000 vs. $250,000 or $150,000
Why my bail was set so high in Monmouth County compared to the bail required in Delaware (where I am not a resident and have no ties to the community) remains a mystery to me.
At my bail reduction hearing in Monmouth County, which occurred after I had already been incarcerated for almost two weeks, the judge who reduced my bail to $150,000 with no 10% option said that such bail would be appropriate for like charges levied in New Jersey.
The Asbury Park Press reported this morning that a former attorney was arrested for stealing over $200,000 from a client. Those charges are somewhat similar to those levied against me. The former attorney’s bail was set at $35,000.
On November 1, The Asbury Park Press reported that a Wall Township attorney and her paralegal were indicted after a three year long investigation for stealing $800,000 from wards whose interests they were assigned to protect. The attorney and the paralegal were each released on $75,000 bail.
In comparison, my bail in Monmouth County seems like an injustice and I realize that I sound like I am complaining. That is not my intention. It is a mystery.
This experience has been incredibly difficult for me, perhaps more so for those who love me. It has been life altering, yet I have faith that in the long run it will be for the good.
Over the next few days or weeks I’ll be writing more about my experience and some of the other differences I have noticed between New Jersey and Delaware.
I’ll get back to writing about the political happenings in Monmouth, the State and the Nation. I’ll be writing about some of the things I missed while was away. I may write about topics other than politics too.
I won’t be writing about the charges against me. Comments about the charges will be removed and those commenters blocked. There are other sites that will accommodate my naysayers.
I am happy to be back.
I am extremely grateful to the many, many people who have supported me throughout this ordeal and to those who have been supportive since my release two weeks ago. In times of crisis like the one I have faced, you quickly learn who your friends are.
I am grateful to, and for, my friends and family.