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Witness says cop offered ticket fix; traffic summonses could 'disappear'
[Lodi, NJ]

March 15, 2001
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Witness says cop offered ticket fix; traffic summonses could 'disappear'
[Lodi, NJ]

Shannon D. Harrington, Staff Writer
March 14, 2001, Wednesday
Copyright 2001 North Jersey Media Group Inc.
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
March 14, 2001, Wednesday

(LODI, N.J.) -- John Cenci's driving record was a running joke around Lodi.

By his mid-20s, Cenci said, he had been slapped with 24 moving violations, had his license suspended five times, and racked up more than 60 points against his record.

So it was nothing new when Cenci was pulled over in December 1994and charged with operating a car without a license, registration, or insurance. Only this time, Lodi police Sgt. Ernest Iodaci tried to get something out of it, Cenci testified in Superior Court in Hackensack on Tuesday.

Cenci said he had recently told the father of Iodaci's girlfriend that the officer was still seeing another woman. Iodaci was angry about it, he said.

When Iodaci issued the summonses, Cenci told jurors, he said it was Cenci's job to help smooth things over between Iodaci and his girlfriend's father.

"And if I could do that for him... these summonses would disappear,"he testified.

1 Now 32 and living in Pennsylvania, Cenci is part of prosecutors case against Iodaci, 40, a onetime hero cop who they say abused his badge by fixing tickets and trying to keep a witness from testifying against him.

Iodaci's attorney, George Schneider, attacked Cenci's credibility Tuesday.

Cenci had a selective memory, he said, noting that the witness couldn't recall basic details about most of his run-ins with cops but somehow remembered the conversations he had with Iodaci.

"He's looking to save his own butt and is getting tremendous pressure from prosecutors," Schneider said.

As was fleshed out in other testimony Tuesday, prosecutors are also charging that Iodaci fixed two parking tickets at the request of a woman he once asked out. The woman, Christine Paparozzi, is the sister of Lodi Mayor Gary Paparozzi.

Iodaci later tried to keep her from testifying against him, at one point even suggesting the mayor should tell her not to talk to prosecutors, they have alleged.

Christine Paparozzi testified that she did ask Iodaci to fix at least one parking ticket that the officer had issued to a visiting friend and may have suggested he do the same with a ticket issued to her onetime boyfriend.

The two men who received the tickets told jurors they never heard about the summonses again.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Ike Gavzy said that Iodaci altered one ticket to say that the illegally parked car was actually disabled, even though the driver testified in court that it was operating fine.

Gary Paparozzi testified that Iodaci suggested he tell his sister not to talk with the prosecutors. But, he said, he didn't act on the request.

"I was uncomfortable with it," the mayor said.

Christine Paparozzi said she had one brief brush with Iodaci in1999 at which he said something to her about the tickets. But she testified that he never told her not to cooperate with prosecutors.

Cenci said he made a faint attempt to patch things up between Iodaci and his girlfriend's father. It failed, he told jurors.

Later, Iodaci approached him at his house.

"He told me he should knock my expletive teeth out," Cenci testified, noting that the officer was holding a flashlight. "I was scared. I was really scared."

Gavzy is expected to rest the prosecution's case today after calling a few more witnesses.

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