City protest destroys JoJo and former Mayor Mack’s crime lair (LA PARKER COLUMN) – Trentonian
A Trenton steakhouse made infamous by an FBI sting that framed and convicted former mayor Tony Mack and his associates is collapsing on Monday.
JoJo’s Steakhouse and a row of city-owned properties on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard are facing demolition as part of the city’s strategic plan to eliminate blight and other problematic properties.
As Mack shamed his office, falling for a similar FBI corruption sting that once failed to ensnare his predecessor, Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, something far more sinister than words and corrupt conspiracies happened in the back room of JoJo’s, a popular overnight steak restaurant. owls, munchers and farm-bars.
In 1978, acutely obese Joseph Giorgianni, aka JoJo, torturing scales as a nearly 565-pound giant, lured a 14-year-old girl into his back room lair, manipulated her with alcohol and then sexually assaulted her with a soda bottle.
Four years later, Giorgianni and his accomplice Clarence “Larry” Sindora, faced charges of carnal abuse and moral debauchery of the teenager.
Convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, Giorgianni was released free just 25 days after entering Leesburg State Penitentiary.
His attorney convinced Superior Court Judge Richard JS Barlow Jr. that a lack of air conditioning, prison stress and other challenges could kill him.
The prosecution presented no evidence to the contrary, as Barlow reduced Giorgianni’s sentence to three years probation and a $2,000 fine.
Giorgianni had proclaimed his innocence. ″I am raped. I am the victim,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, Mercer County Assistant District Attorney Hal K. Haveson claimed that Giorgianni “succeeded in getting out of jail.”
Public outcry reached the governor’s office as lawmaker Christopher Jackman, sponsor of a bill allowing the castration of sex offenders, called for an investigation into the judge. Jackman wanted nothing more than to pass his legislation and then inflict outrage on Giorgianni.
The plot twisted after Barlow, who declined to comment on Giorgianni’s parole, re-imprisoned the big man after a video emerged showing the owner of a cheesesteak restaurant lighting a large cigar during of a boxing match in Atlantic City.
Others said they saw Giorgianni hanging around inside a casino without a cane, oxygen or other medical assistance. Giorgianni eventually served three years of his 15-year sentence.
“The punitive aspect was served by both offenders and there is no indication that Giorgianni or Sindora are a danger to society,” said New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman Christopher Dietz.
Yet even his time in prison drew notoriety, as Giorgianni needed a specially made $1,000 bed and handmade clothes from a men’s boutique in Trenton. After all, few retail stores could offer pants with a 76-inch waist or shirts five times larger than size XL.
His sordid past never phased Mack who had his friend occasionally in a wheelchair participate in mayoral debates through his brother Ralphiel Mack. Critics were puzzled about the relationship between Mayor Mack and his confidant, an overweight sex offender.
Tony Mack won an election in 2010 and then faced many disappointments and setbacks in a lackluster municipal performance. The FBI sting led to a 58-month sentence.
Giorgianni, Mack and insider friends strategized inside a city property, identifying the property as their “clubhouse”. Many operated under pseudonyms as Giorgianni, smarter than many believed, talked about running Trenton like New York’s true dragon of political power, William “Boss” Tweed.
In the end, FBI agents installed cameras on a telephone pole just outside JoJo’s Steakhouse. The tapped phones enabled the government to bring down Mack, his brother, and Giorgianni. The feds arrested steak shop worker Mary Manfredo on drug distribution charges while Giorgiannia ran a prescription drug clearinghouse.
In July 2012, federal agents struck at Mack’s Berkeley Square home. They were admitted inside without incident.
The rest is sad history from the town that played as the name of one of Giorgianni’s famous steak sandwiches – Garbage.
LA Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Find him on Twitter @LAParker6 or email him at [email protected]