Lynch: Letters to judge support Lynch

Letters to judge support Lynch

12/15/2006 Home News Tribune

Friends and family. Democrats and Republicans. Names that appear often in the newspaper and names that rarely would. What these people have in common is their support for John A. Lynch Jr., who will be sentenced Tuesday in federal court for mail fraud and income-tax evasion.

Crediting Lynch with everything from the revival of the city of New Brunswick and authorship of 160 state laws to assisting a sick woman that allowed her family "to find joy that Christmas knowing she would be in good hands" — the writers of 172 letters urged U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chester to show compassion.

Under sentencing guidelines, the 68-year-old Lynch faces a probable sentence of between 33 and 41 months, and fines of between $7,500 and $75,000.

The judge has the discretion of ruling outside the guidelines, and the letters on Lynch's behalf call for leniency — based on the body of his public work, and the good works few people ever see.

One letter writer compared Lynch to the character played by Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life." Another wrote how Lynch helped secure an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy "for the son of a working man."

The Home News Tribune obtained copies of 171 of the letters, which paint a glowing picture of a man who rose to power, and then committed crimes that will likely send him to federal prison. The lone letter withheld was a letter from Lynch's 15-year-old son, Matthew.

In many of the letters, Lynch's supporters emphasize the role the elder Lynch has played in a son's life. "Matthew's thirst for education and knowledge and desire to contribute to society is inherited from his father," wrote Alan C. Marcus, who heads a public-relations firm and does most of his work for members of the Republican Party.

Stark contrast for Feds

The Home News Tribune also obtained a letter sent to Judge Chesler that paints a word picture of a dramatically different sort, written by U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie.

Lynch, according to Christie's Dec. 14 letter, ". . . defrauded the citizens of New Jersey by engaging in a carefully crafted and deliberately concealed scheme to enrich himself."

The image of Lynch painted by his supporters, Christie wrote, "stands in stark contrast to the corrupt, fraudulent and secretive behavior engaged in by defendant Lynch."

Lynch has already paid $37,810 to the IRS, a figure his tax preparer believes Lynch owes on unreported 1999 income of $150,000. According to the IRS, the proper figure should have been $57,028.

"We have discussed this discrepancy with the government and continue to cooperate with the IRS," attorneys Jack Arseneault and David W. Fassett wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Lynch entered a guilty plea Sept. 15. In addition to his failure to pay certain income taxes, he admitted that he wrote letters on state Senate letterhead to the state Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of a South Brunswick sand company. It became a federal crime when he used the mail system to demand payments.

In a presentence statement submitted to the judge, Lynch again acknowledged his guilt.

"I am angry at, and ashamed of, myself for engaging in the wrongdoing," he wrote. "I still have difficulty today understanding why I engaged in this wrongdoing and breached my obligation to the people who elected me."

Husband and father

The most personal letters made available were ones sent by his wife, the children from his first marriage and his in-laws.

In her letter, Deborah Lynch, his wife, wrote, "(John's) courage to confront his misconduct and the responsibility he takes for his actions should help give you some insight into his character."

She added, "With his truth he gave our son Matthew as well as our entire family yet another example of how to face our greatest fears and challenges, putting aside all pride he chose what was right."

A daughter from his first marriage, Patricia Lynch-Bradshaw, wrote how her father, raising three children as a single parent, prepared breakfast, cooked dinner, did the laundry, "then (was) either racing back out for more meetings or sitting down to mountains of paperwork before heading to the supermarket to grocery shop at 10 or 11 o'clock at night."

Reviving New Brunswick

If the role played in the life of his 15-year-old son is the most common thread in the letters, the role Lynch played in the city of New Brunswick would be a close second.

Thomas Dooley of Sea Girt, who has known Lynch since the two were preschool playmates, recalled how Lynch returned to his hometown from law school in Washington, D.C. "When John became mayor he turned our old dead town into something wonderful," Dooley wrote.

John P. Lynch, a son from his first marriage, recalled what New Brunswick looked like when his father ran for mayor in 1978: "Downtown looked like a war zone, burned out, boarded up . . . the cultural center consisted of two porn theaters and a go-go bar."

Lynch orchestrated the revival of the city, "with great personal sacrifice," his son wrote. "Working 18-hour days six days a week does not leave much time for family and friends. But I honestly have to say, I could not be more proud of what that sacrifice has brought to New Brunswick."

"(Lynch) was an enthusiastic and charismatic leader, and important business leaders bought into his ideas for the rebuilding of the city," wrote Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, D-Middlesex.

Twenty years after he lost a primary race for mayor to Lynch, New Brunswick attorney George Hendricks wrote, "I can truthfully reflect that the best man won."

Kevin Hoagland, president of the Central Jersey Spinal Cord Association, recalled in a letter how after he suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury, Lynch co-chaired a dinner to help Hoagland's family pay for elements of his care.

"Always a fighter'

Attorney Thomas B. Mannion of Bayville wrote, "John was always a "fighter' whether at court, politics, playing poker, playing pingpong, bowling, etc. His decision to plead guilty was surprising in that context, but also was consistent with the Johnny Lynch I knew who would acknowledge his wrongdoing and live with the results."

Ray Bateman of Somerville, a Republican who ran for governor in 1977, recalled how he and Lynch regularly put aside political differences. "John, a Democrat, had no problem giving this Republican quiet, friendly advice. We both had love affairs with New Jersey."

The Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Franklin and former secretary of state during the Republican administration of Gov. Christie Whitman, wrote how Lynch helped build a housing development in Franklin. "That means that in one location John Lynch is responsible for the creation of $12.4 million of wealth for families who were previously living in poverty and substandard housing."

Other letters of support were written by Rabbi Chaim A. Rogoff of the East Brunswick Jewish Center and Monsignor Joseph Curry, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Spotswood.

"Dear Judge Chesler, pardon my poor English — I am a Cuban refugee in this country since 1959. . . . I am asking the court to be lenient in sentencing John A. Lynch for his offense if he ever did anything wrong and we all make mistakes in our lives," wrote J.P. Ferro, president of Ferro Industries in New Brunswick.

Several letters on Lynch's behalf urged the judge to rule that Lynch should not go to prison.

"To imprison John Lynch is to waste an outstanding talent," wrote Van Dyke Pollitt of Fanwood, one of Lynch's closest friends. "I hope you will also consider the fact that, one day, John Lynch will again walk with us to use his many talents to help others in other ways. Hopefully, that day will be soon."

Christie countered, "The only kind of sentence appropriate in this matter is a sentence of imprisonment."

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