A jury found today that former Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor wrongfully arrested and prosecuted former Wildwood Mayor Gary DeMarzo and Wildwood Solicitor Samuel Lashman.
The verdict marks the end of more than a decade of controversy, including eight years of litigation and a trial that lasted a month.
The issue started in 2007 when DeMarzo took an unpaid leave from his job as a Wildwood police officer to join the local governing body. Political opponents moved to prevent him from holding two jobs. DeMarzo won his first round in court, but the lost when an appellate court ruled that he had to choose one job or the other.
DeMarzo refused, and Taylor indicted him – three times. One of the indictments was pulled and the other two dismissed. The issue continued long after DeMarzo lost re-election in 2011, and after Taylor left office last year. It took until earlier this year for the New Jersey courts to determine that that the indictments were improper.
Today’s jury verdict in an Atlantic County courtroom found that Taylor’s prosecution of DeMarzo was malicious.
DeMarzo and Lashman were represented by attorneys Louis Barbone and Timothy Alexander, and by David Castellani.
“This was a difficult case to explain but not difficult to understand as soon as Mr. Barbone and Mr. Castellani ripped into Mr. Taylors misleading evidence, fuzzy logic and outright lies,” DeMarzo said. “It became obvious that Mr. Taylor, and several other associates, abused the oath and office they swore to uphold. While other City of Wildwood Politicians and employees used the power of tax payer money to destroy our lives.”
DeMarzo, who lost a comeback bid in 2015, said he feels vindicated.
“I am extremely grateful to the jury who sat, listened, questioned and ultimately decided to restore and returned our great family names and integrities. Giving us back our very reputations, reputations Mr. Taylor had tried to destroy through ‘The Pain of Indictment,’” DeMarzo said.