‘Silver’s Lining’: Long-time JCPD cop can’t explain signature issues, but worked off-duty with integrity
Anthony Silver, the Jersey City Police Department’s longest-serving officer, couldn’t explain signature issues – involving two infamous superior officers – with some of his pay vouchers, but testified that he worked off-duty jobs with integrity.
Not 1, not 2, but 3… Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officers testified on the 9th day of The State of New Jersey vs Joseph Ascolese, Kelly Chesler, and Michael O’Neill.
Simply put, it was a much needed change of pace following the testimonies of Off-Duty Intake Coordinator Thomas Mahoney and provisional-Deputy Chief Neil Donnelly – both of which took up three days of the court’s time.
The first police officer to testify on October 2, 2018, was Anthony “Sonny” Silver, followed by Joseph Torre and Carlos Castillo, respectively, and ended with Tommy Zambrzycki briefly testifying. All of the witnesses were called to the stand by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO).
Silver can’t explain signature issues, but worked off-duty with integrity
Silver, currently the longest-serving officer in the JCPD, didn’t testify specifically to any of the indictments, but worked New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) posts on relevant dates and provided First Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Peter Stoma with quasi-expert testimony regarding off-duty policies.
At the beginning of Silver’s testimony, hoping to stop a repeat of Donnelly’s marathon redirect, Jeffrey Garrigan, Lt. Kelly Chesler’s attorney, objected to Stoma going through each of the officer’s pay vouchers and matching it with a supervisor’s records. Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mirtha Ospina sided with Garrigan, calling it a “waste of time” under evidence rules, but stated that Stoma could submit the relevant off-duty records into evidence and bring them up in closing arguments.
Under cross-examination from Robert Lytle, retired Capt. Joseph Ascolese’s attorney, Silver admitted he never saw any written off-duty policies specific to the NJDOT Pulaski Skyway & Route 139 rehabilitation project. Rather, Silver worked off-duty jobs based on word of mouth and his own practices.
As well, the veteran officer stated he didn’t recall hearing Ascolese or Motorcycle Squad officers on radio transmissions, but that he heard officers responding to accidents.
Silver acknowledged that, in the event his direct off-duty supervisor didn’t come to his post and sign his voucher, it was “50-50” for getting another supervisor’s signature not assigned to his post. The problem was that “everybody had different views from the off-duty office,” which caused him to occasionally submit unsigned vouchers and wait to see what would happen.
Furthermore, Silver testified that, at times, supervisors moved him between posts on an NJDOT off-duty shift according to traffic needs, but that he didn’t always mark a second post on his voucher. The officer also stated that he couldn’t recall a situation where a supervisor didn’t make it to his post, but told Silver to sign his voucher on behalf of the supervisor .
In specific, Silver was shown an NJDOT pay voucher from July 29, 2014, with then-Sgt. Vincent Corso as his supervisor. Upon questioning, the officer conceded that Corso’s purported signature on his voucher did “appear to be different” than Corso’s signature on the supervisor’s patrol log and pay voucher.
Even more bizarre, Corso’s signature on his patrol log and pay voucher didn’t match. The same situation occurred on May 9, 2014, and August 7, 2014, with then-Lt. Nicola Flora.
Of note, Flora has been on modified duty for nearly ten months due to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe of JCPD off-duty jobs – which has ensnared ex-Chief Phil Zacche due to a Real Jersey City investigation.
Corso was once the focus of a Real Jersey City surveillance report. The Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association (JCPSOA) 1st VP was caught on camera, a few hours after a shooting at Dickinson High School, with Public Safety Director James Shea, partying at a bar when he was supposed to be working an off-duty shift.
Ironically, Corso was the supervisor of officers working the NJDOT’s Route 139 posts during the investigation. It’s believed that JCPD and HCPO officials declined to investigate the allegations in the report because of political concerns.
Moreover, Silver was questioned regarding his handling of a motor vehicle accident (MVA) near his off-duty post on June 20, 2014. He was paid by the NJDOT for the shift, but it’s not clear if processing MVAs, even if in the vicinity of the post, was in line with official Skyway Project policy.
Later on, after Garrigan’s cross-exam, and while Stoma was conducting his redirect, Silver said he heard Ascolese over the radio, conflicting with his previous testimony. The officer added that Ascolese had, in fact, signed some of his NJDOT pay vouchers.
Regardless, though he testified for the state, it’s not clear what value Silver’s testimony provided for the HCPO. In short, the silver lining of Silver’s testimony is that a few suspicious anomalies doesn’t mean he didn’t work his off-duty jobs with integrity.
VIDEO OF SILVER’S TESTIMONY BELOW:
‘Minor League’: Cho looks amateur examining JCPD’s Joe Torre, Stoma handles Castillo in relief
Due to NFL boycotts, most of the sports talk in the male-dominated courtroom has been MLB-centric. At the very least, there hasn’t been enough talk about Patrick Mahomes II and the Kansas City Chiefs during the trial’s downtime.
By the time HCPO Assistant Prosecutor Charles Cho was done with his direct examination of Officer Joseph “Joe” Torre, it was apparent he needed to be reassigned to the minor leagues for New Jersey prosecutors.
In the end, Cho’s cringeworthy legal exercise was unworthy of cross-examination by three defense attorneys. Then again, the defense didn’t cross-exam Officer Carlos Castillo after Stoma’s direct examination – who questioned the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) officer in relief of Cho.
Torre testified to working three NJDOT off-duty posts, specifically Duncan/1&9 on June 3, 2014 (with then-Lt. David Brown as supervisor); Broadway/Routes 1&9 on June 6, 2014; and Route 139/Tonnelle Ave on June 30, 2014.
The 6/6/14 is of importance to Officer Michael O’Neill, as it’s one of the two days he’s indicted for. The HCPO’s star witness, Michael Maietti, O’Neill’s former co-defendant, was also indicted for that date – for the Broadway/Routes 1&9 NJDOT post – before accepting what’s been characterized by defense attorneys as a generous plea deal.
Despite being able to recognize O’Neill as a fellow officer, Torre offered no recollection of the dates worked other than to attest that his paperwork was accurate. Additionally, he claimed that he didn’t know Maietti.
Torre’s testimony was a positive development for O’Neill, as neither the young JCPD officer, nor provisional-deputy chief that was supervising him, testified that he didn’t work on 6/6/14. Ascolese is accused of falsely signing O’Neill and Maietti’s pay vouchers for that date and NJDOT post.
Continuing on 6/6/14, Castillo was unable to offer independent recollection beyond his pay voucher for working the 18th St./Marin Blvd. NJDOT post. As well, Castillo offered the same testimony, for the same post, for May 29, 2014, and June 30, 2014.
Ascolese and Chesler are on trial for allegedly signing vouchers for Maietti to get paid for work they knew he didn’t perform – at the same post as Castillo – on 6/30/14 and 5/29/14, respectively.
Ironically, by the time Castillo was done testifying for the state, he would face his toughest questioning from Ospina. Specifically, the judge grilled Castillo as to the accuracy of what supermarket was located near Marin and 18th Street.
Castillo incorrectly referred to the supermarket as ShopRite during Stoma’s direct examination, when, in fact, it’s an ACME (and an A&P before that).
VIDEO OF TORRE AND CASTILLO TESTIMONY BELOW: