Unless an outpouring of Democratic voters shows up for the June 6 primary, in Elizabeth, Union, Kenilworth and Roselle can expect to re-elect a devious politician who has been involved with child pornography, murder, financial misconduct, thievery, assault, suppression of Black voters, nepotism, organized crime influence, and more.
A former member of the New Jersey General Assembly, Senator Joseph Cryan represented legislative District 20 from 2001 to January 4, 2015, when resigned following his election as sheriff of Union County in 2014, but his rise in politics has coincided with some incredible scandals.
Cryan shared an office in Union Township with Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen, who resigned from the General Assembly and pleaded guilty to a charge of endangering the welfare of a child by distributing child pornography.
Cohen was indicted for official misconduct, reproduction of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography but the state dropped the official misconduct charge and three of four child pornography counts as part of a plea bargain and on April 12, 2010, Cohen pleaded guilty to the charge of endangering the welfare of a child by distributing child pornography.
“Not only did Mr. Cohen access, print and distribute child pornography, he did it in his legislative office using equipment paid for by state taxpayers,” said Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor. “He not only betrayed any standard of decency, he betrayed the people of the State of New Jersey.”
Cohen was disbarred and sentenced to five years but he was only incarcerated 421 days—from November 4, 2010, until January 4, 2012—when he was released on parole after 1 year, 1 month, 26 days.
Tony Teixeira, the longtime Union County Democratic operative who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, was most recently chief of staff to Senate President Nick Scutari, but appeared with Cryan at rallies and events in Elizabeth while orchestrating his 2021 campaign.
Teixeira’s guilty plea resulted from Sean Caddle’s cooperation with the authorities after admitting to hiring hit men to kill his former associate, Michael Galdieri. Teixeira’s unreported income came from skimming money from groups that influenced elections while hiding the financial sources, a network of super PACs, dark money groups and campaigns.
Caddle was closely aligned with former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, and other top officials in the Union County political machine, including Cryan.
Cryan, Lesniak, Bollwage, and Scutari hired killers like Caddle and thieves like Teixeira to wrest control of the Elizabeth Board of Education from political rivals and maintain domination over other local, county and state government entities that enable them to profits from billions of dollars in taxpayer money.
After arriving in America from County Roscommon, Ireland, his father, John Cryan, established a bar in Essex County, from where he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly and later as Essex County Sheriff.
On August 23, 1979, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging John F. Cryan and three codefendants with racketeering in connection with using the power of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office to extort bribe money from government employees.
Joseph Cryan has three children. Superior Court Judge Jane Cantor jailed the lawmaker’s son, also named John Cryan, in 2007 when he was 24-years old because he repeatedly violated a probationary sentence handed down after the young man savagely beat a motorist with a baseball bat.
Other relatives involved in public life are his sister, Union Township Municipal Clerk Eileen Birch, his brother-in-law Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue,
The Senator’s cousin, Morristown Councilman John Cryan, was arrested in January 2006 and charged with aggravated assault, unlawful entry and burglary after he allegedly punched Kevin Walsh, manager of the Dark Horse Lounge, when he pushed his way into the bar as it was closing just after 2 a.m. The Senator’s counsin had apparently been drinking.
His brother had his driving privileges revoked for life after amassing a decades-long driving record that the Hunterdon County prosecutor called “horrendous” during the time Senator Cryan was the Union County Sheriff.
John Cryan, the candidate’s brother, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault by auto, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a July 17, 2013 accident in which the driver of the other vehicle was seriously injured.
The man had initially been facing far more serious charges but investigators were unable to obtain a blood-alcohol reading because he fled the scene.
Cryan was instrumental in getting New Jersey to sever ties with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a law enforcement agency credited with breaking up Mafia organized crime families, associates of which had financially supported the lawmaker’s political campaigns.
Genovese crime family associate Albert Cernadas, Sr. was among Cryan’s earliest political campaign contributors when the mobster gave $875 to his 2005 campaign for the General Assembly.
“Albert Cernadas Sr., who served as both executive vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association and president of ILA Local 1235 in Newark, was accused of shaking down his members under threats of violence, in what was described as a long-running racketeering operation tied to the Genovese organized crime family,” according to Star-Ledger reporter Ted Sherman.
The agency was created in the 1950s to combat entrenched organized crime influences at the ports of New York and New Jersey, of the type dramatized in the 1954 film, “On the Waterfront.”
Those illegal activities enriched the Mafia at the expense of the American taxpayer, harmed companies by their pernicious presence and undermined the U.S. government.
Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation—which Cryan supported—to withdraw New Jersey from its compact with New York and kill the Waterfront Commission—and the US Supreme Court recently approved the deal. Christie so often turned to Cryan for the crucial deciding vote when the Republicans needed Democratic help, that the Union County lawmaker earned the nickname “Mr. 41” among Trenton insiders. It takes 41 votes to get legislation through the Assembly.
Cryan himself was the subject of the grand jury inquiry into whether he, as the Union Township Democratic municipal chairman, illegally filled five county committee seats in advance of a special election for Union County Democratic chairman.
Ricardo McNeil, Versie McNeil, Lucia Prisco, and Tamese Cohen—four of the five elected county committee members who Cryan replaced—told deputy attorney general Eric C. Cohen, who is assigned to the corruption and fraud unit of the attorney general’s office, they never resigned.
The resignation letters were signed by Cryan with notes saying the resignees’ signatures were not available, not by the committee people who were elected in the previous primary election.
During his final hours as Democratic state chairman in 2010, Cryan appointed himself to the State Legislative Redistricting Commission.
Cryan used that post to draw congressional and state legislative lines for partisan benefit, cheating the same way Republicans did to gain their narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
While he has avoided criminal accountability and rejection by the voters, Cryan has used the power of prosecution to punish his personal and political enemies.
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