NJ Corruption has obtained the legal bills for two law firms representing the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and former Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives Michael Mordaga in a federal lawsuit brought by the Estate of Frank Lagano–a former soldier in the Lucchese crime family. While the lawsuit alleges that Mordaga and other high ranking officials of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office leaked Lagano’s status as a state informant to members of organized crime in a successful effort to have him murdered, the litigation has exposed other corruption in the office.
The redacted bills from November 2016 to January 2017, disclosed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to a source, reveal that the firms billed state taxpayers over $25,000 through that time period simply for reviewing documents filed in the case.
Decotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Giblin of Teneack is representing Mordaga while Schenck, Price, Smith & King of Florham Park is representing the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in the lawsuit that has thus far exposed the ties of high ranking Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office officials to organized crime.
Filings in the case by the Estate’s attorney, Eric Kleiner of Englewood Cliffs, revealed Mordaga’s involvement in a kickback scheme with a personal injury attorney that netted Mordaga hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lawsuit also raised questions about Mordaga’s $1.3 million home in Paramus which was recently placed in a trust in order to protect it from potential creditors (like the Estate of Frank Lagano). Mordaga owed Lagano hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans prior to Lagano’s shooting outside of a diner in East Brunswick in 2007.
Among other things, the bills reveal that both firms have entered a joint defense agreement and that they intend to soon depose Robert Tandy, an attorney for James Sweeney–the now deceased Attorney General’s Investigator who blew the whistle on Mordaga’s ties to Lagano and Mordaga’s involvement in Lagano’s murder. Sweeney was Lagano’s handler at the time.
Former Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, who was removed from office in 2016 amid several corruption scandals, hired and defended Mordaga and is likely to be deposed as discovery in the case continues.
Both law firms have each assigned three attorneys to the case and the cost to state taxpayers is expected to substantially rise as the case continues. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office hired the private law firms to represent the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Mordaga.