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AP Newsbreak: Democratic subpoenas part of wider N.J. probe

The Associated Press
3/5/2004, 6:14 p.m. ET

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Federal subpoenas served on state offices are part of a larger probe into Democratic fund-raisers who claimed they could get state government contracts in exchange for campaign cash, a law enforcement source said Friday.

Gov. James E. McGreevey will turn over documents named in subpoenas issued Thursday to the governor's office and the state Treasury and Agriculture departments, seeking specific documents, McGreevey spokesman Kathy Ellis said Friday.

"The subpoenas request a limited scope of documents and are directed to offices, not specific individuals," Ellis said. "The governor has directed staff to fully comply with the requests and we expect to furnish the documents expeditiously."

The subpoena to the Treasury Department's Division of Taxation sought details about the settlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars in state tax liens involving David D'Amiano and his waste and recycling companies, law enforcement sources said.

The subpoena served on the governor's office sought records, correspondence and documents on other matters involving D'Amiano, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Another law enforcement source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the D'Amiano investigation is related to the ongoing federal probe of Rajesh "Roger" Chugh. Federal authorities have "a cooperating witness" in the Chugh investigation, the source said.

Chugh reportedly pressured and threatened Asian-Indian business owners to contribute to McGreevey's campaign.

Chugh resigned from his job with the New Jersey Department of State last June.

Ellis did not know exactly how many papers were sought. She said the documents could be gathered in "a matter of hours."

D'Amiano's attorney, John Spoganetz, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Messages were also left for Chugh's attorney, Jay Fahy.

Sources familiar with the investigation speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday that federal investigators are expected to issue subpoenas for more records.

D'Amiano is paying the state $350,000 for labor violations, state officials said.

State officials have said that D'Amino had four corporate and four personal liens from 1995 to 1997 valued at $500,000. They were settled before 1998.

An additional $433,000 from three of D'Amiano's corporate and personal tax liens were settled in 2003.

D'Amiano, who has made campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, is a longtime McGreevey associate, having served on the finance committee for McGreevey's 1997 run for governor.

This latest round of subpoenas comes two days after the FBI raided the State Democratic Committee's office in Trenton. In that case, they sought documents and computer hard drives with information about Carteret businessman David D'Amiano's fund-raising activities and political contributions he has raised for the governor and the Democratic Party.

State Treasury officials on Friday referred all calls on the matter to the office of state Attorney General Peter Harvey. Harvey, in an interview with The Associated Press, said he had no direct knowledge that subpoenas had been served.

Steve Kodak, a spokesman for the FBI's Newark office, said Friday he could not comment.

McGreevey said Thursday that D'Amiano, 44, received no favored treatment from his administration regarding tax liens, and that the state acted properly when it renewed permits for D'Amiano's recycling company, despite unpaid fines for environmental violations.

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