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FYI - Asm Chiappone sponsored a bill to put ARAs on the Fish and Game Council and to ban freshwater fishing, hunting & trapping (Similar to the Panter bill.) He sponsored the bill and introduced it the first week of his term last year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bayonne Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone yesterday confirmed he is being investigated by the state Attorney General's Office, apparently for allegedly forging the signatures of Assembly aides on paychecks and cashing them - actions he strongly denies.

Chiappone said he became aware of the probe yesterday when five former and one current Assembly aide called to tell him they were visited yesterday by state AG detectives who showed them copies of canceled checks and asked them to verify their signatures.

Chiappone said he immediately called the state attorney general to ask what the inquiry was about, but that officials wouldn't answer his questions over the telephone.

He said he is voluntarily going to the attorney general's office in Trenton tomorrow - without an attorney - to be interviewed.

The attorney general's spokesman, Peter Aseltine, would not confirm or deny the investigation.

Chiappone, who recently resigned from the Bayonne City Council, said only one current aide, Robert Mays, was interviewed. The other five persons worked for him in during his 2004-2005 Assembly term, he said. Those names were not available last night and Mays declined to comment.

"It's always concerning when you are being investigated," Chiappone said. "I welcome the opportunity to answer whatever questions they have."

This inquiry apparently stems from an incident in 2005 when a campaign worker for Chiappone, Michael Albanese, filed a police report accusing Chiappone of forging his signature and depositing a $180 check.

Chiappone subsequently acknowledged that the check, which Albanese had already signed, got mixed up with his mail and his wife mistakenly deposited it.

Albanese later told a local newspaper was mistaken about the forgery allegation and Bayonne police charged him with filing a false police report.

That charge was settled in October 2007 when in a plea deal, Albanese paid a $500 fine and pleaded guilty to loitering in a public place for unlawful purpose.

Chiappone represents the 31st District, which encompasses all of Bayonne and a southern portion of Jersey City. He is running for re-election this year.

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pleaded guilty to loitering in a public place for unlawful purpose
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