Con artist Phil Rizzo is threatening to file a countersuit against the Morris County Republican Committee if they don’t settle a lawsuit over an unpaid $1,500 bill for a table at a county convention earlier this year, threatening to reveal cracks in the party organization that could help Democrats and signaling that he agrees to a non-disclosure agreement so that neither party can disparage the other.

Rizzo’s small claims court trial is set for Dec. 4.

“I hope that in the spirit of the holidays and in the spirit of trying to do what’s best for the Republican Party as a whole, as I personally see it in a blue state, that your client will agree to drop this lawsuit and that the parties can walk away, perhaps with confidentiality clause to avoid defamation, etc.,” Rizzo’s attorney, Ronald Berutti, said in a letter obtained by the New Jersey Globe.

Rizzo, who lost his bid for the Republican congressional nomination in New Jersey’s 7th District in June, appeared in court on Halloween, when the trial was originally scheduled to begin. He told Supreme Court Justice David L. Weaver he wanted to get a lawyer.

The GOP alleges that Rizzo’s political director, Daniel Lauchyk Jr., agreed to pay for a table in the convention hall to hand out literature, display signs and have a “home base” during the convention. Court documents show that Rizzo’s company prepared a copy of the $1,500 online deposit but never clicked the “Send” button on the payment platform.

Rep.-elect Thomas H. Keen Jr. (R-Westfield) won a runoff vote at the Morris GOP convention. Keane edged out newcomer John Henry Eiseman on the first ballot by a 48-36 vote, with 23 votes for Assemblyman Eric Peterson (R-Franklin); Rizzo finished fourth with only 20 votes out of 127 – just 15.7%.

Berruti also wants Loveczyk unindicted, saying Rizzo’s campaign “does not deny that he was authorized to speak to the campaign” in conversations with the Morris Republican Party about matters related to the convention. It’s not immediately clear that Morris County Republicans agreed to that.

“In my view, the dollar amount involved here is negligible for either side and does not warrant this action or countersuit other than to make a political splash and demonstrate to the other side that Morris County Republicans are divided and ripe for divide and conquer. . At the end of the day, it doesn’t benefit anyone,” Beruti said. “A little goodwill would probably go a long way.”

The lawsuit alleges Rizzo’s company defrauded the Morris Republican Party out of $1,500.

“Upon entry, Mr. Lautick, acting as a campaign representative, showed our employees a photograph of a donation to our organization that had not yet been sent in a successful attempt to mislead employees into thinking that the donations had been made,” the Republicans allege in their submission to court.

Morris Republicans accuse Rizzo and his staff of deliberately trying to get the benefits of the table without having to pay for it.

“This kind of behavior has no place in our party, especially when we’re dealing with an organization that relies heavily on the generosity of donors and the efforts of volunteers,” DeSpirito said.

An email from Lautick in court records shows consent to the payment.

“We would love a table,” Lautick wrote. “How do we pay?”

Loveczyk declined to comment during a brief conversation with the New Jersey Globe.

In the email, Rizzo himself appears to have confirmed the payment demand.

“I’ll put you in touch with my convention team,” Rizzo said. “They’ll take care of all those details.”

Berruti asked for a delay until Dec. 11, but Weaver scheduled Rizzo’s trial a week earlier.

Rizzo faced heavy criticism for selling his Harding home for $1.65 million to City Baptist Church, a tiny church in North Bergen where he was pastor that is now defunct. This allowed Rizzo to live there without paying property taxes.

The Morris County IRS revoked Rizzo’s tax-exempt status in May. He has since sold the house and moved to Somerset County.

Rizzo ran for governor in 2021 and received 25.6% of the vote in the gubernatorial primary, losing to Jack Cittarelli by 24 percentage points. In the 2022 House primary, Rizzo received just 23.6% and lost to Tom Keen Jr. by 22 points.

Source link