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Former Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose. (Photo: YouTube/Steve Adubato's Lessons in Leadership.)

Ambrose is likely pick for U.S. Marshal

Former Newark Police Director is choice of U.S. Senators for federal law enforcement post

By David Wildstein, April 18 2021 4:34 pm

The law enforcement career of Anthony Ambrose will get a second act.

The former Newark Public Safety Director has surfaced as the top candidate to become New Jersey’s next U.S. Marshal, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

The 62-year-old Ambrose is the apparent choice of U.S. Senator Cory Booker and is making it in consultation with the state’s senior senator, Bob Menendez.

He would replace Juan Mattos, Jr., who has served as U.S. Marshal for nearly ten years.

Ambrose retired on March 31 after a 35-year career that included stints as Newark police chief, Essex County undersheriff and chief of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The appointment would be made by President Joseph Biden and requires U.S. Senate confirmation.  It’s not clear what the timetable will be on Ambrose’s nomination.

As Newark’s top cop, Ambrose won praise for making changes to the city’s police department consistent with a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree.  He gets credit for a reduction in violent crime under his watch.

President Barack Obama nominated Mattos in 2011, more than two years after he took office.  Mattos emerged as the consensus choice of the state’s two U.S. Senators, Frank R. Lautenberg and Menendez.

Mattos, 65, moved to the federal post after a 35-year career with the New Jersey State Police, where he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel and served as deputy superintendent of operations.   He was the first Hispanic to serve as U.S. Marshal.

At the time, two Bergen County politicians were under consideration for the job: Sheriff Leo McGuire and Freeholder Tom Padilla, a Hackensack police captain.  McGuire eventually withdrew his name and endorsed Padilla.

The highly-regarded Mattos runs an office that apprehends fugitives, coordinates asset forfeitures, and is responsible for security at the state’s three federal courthouses.

President Donald Trump never nominated a U.S. Marshal during his four years in the White House, allowing Mattos to remain past the end of the Obama presidency.

The post has traditionally included political appointments: Bill Clinton named Glenn Cunningham, a former Jersey City councilman and Hudson County freeholder; and George W. Bush picked James Plousis, the Cape May County sheriff.

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