Sunday, December 21, 2014

South Jersey attorney, former assemblyman and school board president, charged in ethics matter.


A Turnersville attorney who briefly served as an Assemblyman in 2003 and who in April 2013 resigned his seat as a member of the Washington Township (Gloucester County) Board of Education, is in trouble with state ethics authorities.

According to an August 19, 2014 formal complaint filed by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (on-line here) attorney Stephen Altamuro represented a Pennsauken man who had been indicted in Camden County for burglary, weapons and drug offenses after attempting to enter a residence while in possession of drugs and an imitation firearm.  After the man was offered a 4 year prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, Altamuro allegedly told the Camden County Prosecutor's office that he could produce as a witness a friend of Altamuro's client who would testify that the defendant was actually trying to enter the witness' home but mistakenly tried to enter a neighbor's home because he was intoxicated.

Altamuro prepared a statement for the witness to sign. But, Altamuro, after having difficulty scheduling a meeting with he witness, allegedly read the statement to the witness over the phone and then signed the witnesses name to it after the witness orally agreed that it was accurate.  The signed statement did not reflect that Altamuro signed the statement instead of the witness.

Later the witness advised Altamuro that he recanted his statement, but Altamuro had already used the statement to get the Camden Prosecutor to agree to two years' probation instead of a four year prison term.  The complaint alleges that Altamuro did not advise the Prosecutor's office of the witness's intent to recant until more than a month after he learned about it.