Impreveduto pled guilty on Nov. 19, 2004 to state charges of misappropriating and diverting thousands of dollars in campaign donations to family members and for use in personal expenditures. His sentencing last week, held at the Mercer County Superior Court, was heavily influenced by a plea bargain Impreveduto struck with the Attorney General's office in November.
According to that agreement, Impreveduto can stay out of prison, but faced fines of up to $25,000 while also making restitution payments for misused funds.
On Monday, Judge Maria Marinari Sypek fined Impreveduto $10,000 and also ordered him to perform 400 hours of community service. The $10,000 came in the form of a $5,000 fine for each count against him. The two counts were a third-degree charge of misapplying entrusted property and a fourth-degree charge of misrepresenting those expenditures on disclosure reports to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. The probation was also handed out in two five-year terms, but Sypek amended the sentences to run concurrently, thus making the total length five years.
Statements released by the state attorney general's office revealed that Impreveduto already had repaid $50,000 in restitution prior to this week's sentencing, and that he donated the $192,000 left in his campaign re-election fund to three Catholic-based charities that included a church and two friars' groups in Newark.
Impreveduto told reporters that he was not making any comment as he left the courtroom Monday, nor did he opt to address the court during his 30-minute sentencing.
After the sentencing, both Impreveduto and his lawyer, John McDonald, reported to the courthouse basement to enroll in a probation program that will be supervised in Hudson County.
"These actions undermine the public trust and make campaign contributions look like nothing more than gifts to public officials," said Anthony Picione, the deputy Attorney General who handled Impreveduto's case, in his remarks to the court.
In total, Impreveduto was initially accused of misusing over $440,000 in campaign funds, paying his daughter, sister and other family members close to $238,000 in taxpayer funds to staff his district office. Another $120,000 was reportedly used to reimburse expenses charged to his personal credit cards that included his daughter's wedding costs, travel to Aruba, eyeglasses, sports memorabilia, and even $2,000 in income taxes.
Additionally, 75 percent of his campaign financing came from special interest groups who had bills pending in the Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities committee that he chaired.
"These people sit on a large pool of money," Picione said. "There's a temptation to use it for yourself, to take a little bit of it. No one will notice, just a little here and there... This will send a message to the public officials and candidates that this simply can't be done."
According to McDonald, Impreveduto repaid the $50,000 - the amount he admitted misusing in his plea bargain - using a home-equity loan.
Additionally, Impreveduto has been disqualified from holding any public office or position of honor, trust, or profit.
Long legislative history
In conjunction with his plea bargain, Impreveduto already had been allowed to resign from various governmental positions before appearing in court for his sentencing. Impreveduto also resigned from his posts within the Secaucus school system where he headed the high school business department and taught business classes.
The early resignations allowed Impreveduto to "retire" on his own terms and therefore keep his pensions. While his resignation took effect on Jan. 17, Impreveduto was awarded his state teacher's pension that same week. His pension, which will begin in February, will net Impreveduto $58,000 a year after logging 33 years in the state Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund.
His pension from 17 years in the state legislature will not start until Impreveduto, 56, turns 60 years old. That will net $25,000 a year.
Once a chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards, Impreveduto resigned from his seat in the state legislature after serving 17 years as the representative from the state's 32nd district. In 92 cases that came before that committee since 1972, only four led to actions - three reprimands and one $200 fine.
Impreveduto was quoted in a 2003 interview with the Asbury Park Press as saying that issues that came before the committee generally amounted to "donkey dust" and that the press exaggerated the level of corruption in state politics.
Starting in 1988, Impreveduto served eight terms in the Assembly and was elected to a ninth.
"Your electorate felt strongly about what you were doing," said Sypek, referring to his successful career in public service, "and I think that is to your credit."
Said Picione of the sentencing, "I think it was an excellent sentence. It sends the message that needed to be sent."
A wide range of sentiments permeated Secaucus as the story drew to a close. Impreveduto's name has deep roots in Hudson County. Many friends and family showed support for the ex-assemblyman, while others felt betrayed and let down.
"[Anthony] is good man who made a few mistakes. He is a strong man and will rebound from this," said one Town Hall official who asked not to be named.
On the other hand, Board of Education member Tom Troyer attended a Town Council meeting two weeks ago and asked that the mayor and council consider changing a building's name in town that bears the Impreveduto name. The building is actually named after Impreveduto's father, the late Rocco Impreveduto.
Impreveduto continued teaching in the high school until his retirement last week, even after having pleaded guilty two months prior.