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State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus). New Jersey Globe Photo.

Lagana held a letter that could save the world

Bergen Democrat trusted by the Sweeney and Stellato

By David Wildstein, June 20 2019 1:56 pm


For a few days this week, State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) was entrusted with a document that could trigger yet another nuclear war in New Jersey politics.

Lagana held a letter signed by Louis Stellato resigning as Bergen County Democratic Chairman.

Senate President Steve Sweeney made Senate confirmation of Stellato as a commissioner of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority contingent upon his resignation as county chairman.

Stellato agreed to that.

Still, there were some who were afraid of a double cross.

Sweeney wanted the resignation first, so he was sure Stellato wouldn’t forget to resign after the Sports Authority seat was his.

Stellato wouldn’t resign before he was confirmed.  He’s a veteran of Bergen County politics and didn’t want to submit his letter and then be told Senate action would be again delayed.

In a world where nobody really trusts anyone, both sides trusted Lagana.

According to three sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Lagana has been in possession of Stellato’s resignation letter since Monday.

Stellato trusted Lagana not to turn the letter in to anybody until the Judiciary Committee approved his nomination and the full Senate voted to confirm him.

All Sweeney needed was Lagana’s word that he had the letter in his pocket and Stellato was good to go.

Lagana, sources say, was extraordinarily careful in guarding the letter. He understood what might happen if he lost it.

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