I’m an investigative writer for the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation, a government watchdog agency that targets organized crime, corruption and the misuse of taxpayer dollars. In this management-level position, I help shape investigations and write public reports that shed light on malfeasance and provide a road map for legislative action. The agency’s work has resulted in sweeping reforms that have broken mob control of various industries and saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
Previously, I was an investigative and enterprise reporter for NJ Advance Media, the company that provides stories for The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s biggest newspaper, and its sister publications in the state, along with NJ.com, the state’s premier news website.
There, I delivered high-impact stories and series that resulted in multiple arrests, job terminations, taxpayer savings and changes in state law. I was a member of the Star-Ledger team that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 2005 after former Gov. James E. McGreevey declared himself a “gay American” and announced he would resign. In 2010, former colleague Amy Brittain and I were awarded a George Polk Award for a three-part series that showed how hundreds of New Jersey law enforcement officers and firefighters used their public health benefits to obtain anabolic steroids and human growth hormone from a crooked physician. The series resulted in new safeguards and pushed forward implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program. My stories have won more than 40 additional awards.
• In 2016, colleague Brian Donohue and I traced a fugitive child molester to Nicaragua, where he continued to work with children as a Pentecostal minister. Prosecutors publicly credited our story, “A Preacher’s Flight from Justice,” with contributing to his capture and arrest. He is now in a New Jersey prison.
• A two-part series exposed the dysfunction and corruption in the Edison Police Department, where rival factions were engaged in a bitter civil war that cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees. The series also revealed an astonishing record of misconduct unrivaled by any similar-sized force in the state. The stories resulted in increased oversight of the internal affairs bureau.
• A series of stories revealed that the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church was not a thing of the past. One priest was criminally charged and defrocked after I showed that he was ministering to children and attending sleepover retreats with them despite a lifetime ban on such behavior. Another priest was removed from ministry after I wrote that he was preying on elderly parishioners financially, peddling hard-luck stories and making off with more than $250,000. A third priest was barred from ministry after I revealed he was explicitly sexting with someone he believed was a 16-year-old boy. Yet another priest was indicted after admitting to me he raped a 15-year-old boy. My stories are widely credited with prompting Pope Francis to appoint a co-adjutor archbishop in the Archdiocese of Newark alongside then-Archbishop John J. Myers.
• An investigation showed that a man who spent five years in prison for torturing and killing cats and kittens in New Jersey was once again collecting cats in Delaware from unsuspecting people seeking homes for the animals. Those cats are now nowhere to be found. The story highlighted the deep ineptitude of Delaware’s animal welfare agency.
• An eight-page special report showed how the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s heralded purchase of Golden Age violins, including works by Antonio Stradivari and Guiseppe Guarneri del Gesu, contained several fakes. The purchase nearly bankrupted the orchestra, which later sold the collection. The report resulted in an internal investigation that validated the story’s findings, including the contention that the orchestra’s leadership misled its subscribers and the public about the collection’s true value to drum up publicity and ticket sales.
• A series of stories on a mob-connected swindler who stole $80 million while working as an informant for the FBI led to his arrest and a 10-year prison term.
Previously, I served as the Star-Ledger’s rewrite man, taking feeds from the field and producing polished and comprehensive write-through stories on breaking news. In that role, I also anchored team coverage of deep-dive enterprise pieces, including a special report on the secret life of former Gov. James E. McGreevey. The story showed how a small circle of loyalists — dubbed the governor’s personal cleanup squad — quashed rumors, reassured supporters fearful of lurid revelations and, in their most brazen act, shipped a female prostitute out of state just before the 1997 gubernatorial election after she claimed McGreevey regularly paid her for sex.
In 2003, I spent six weeks in Baghdad following the end of major combat operations, writing layered, ahead-of-the-curve pieces on rising anti-Americanism, the persecution of Christians at the hands of newly empowered Shia Muslims, widespread lawlessness, dire gasoline shortages and the toll on children from unexploded munitions. Because I was not embedded, I had the freedom to roam beyond the sheltered Green Zone, where military and government officials gave reporters far rosier portraits of conditions on the streets than actually existed.
Throughout my career, I’ve been a team player and a mentor and writing coach to younger reporters, giving regular in-house seminars on writing, ethics, story structure and interview strategies, among other topics.