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Leading N.J. GOP Financier Under Criminal Investigation for Illicit Business Dealings

Alex Constantine - August 11, 2012

Essential Background:
Assemblyman Robert Schroeder may face federal sanctions, source says
Embattled Assemblyman Robert Schroeder did not disclose several corporate interests, review shows

GOP running mate of Assemblyman Robert Schroeder is contacted for clues into his business deals

TRENTON — As the criminal investigation of Assemblyman Robert Schroeder widens, the state Attorney General’s Office has reached out to his district running mate for clues into his expansive business dealings, The Star-Ledger learned today.

The office has contacted Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) to find out more about her financial dealings with the embattled Schroeder, who is also a Bergen County Republican, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

The two sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly, said the meeting would be informational, and that Schepisi was not believed to be a target of the criminal investigation.

Schepisi would not "confirm or deny" today whether she was contacted by the Attorney General’s Office. When asked if she had hired an attorney, she replied, "No comment."

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, Peter Aseltine, also declined to comment on the investigation of Schroeder’s business ventures.

Schepisi said last week she had loaned Schroeder an unspecified amount of money this year on a short-term basis and that it was repaid, she said she was simply trying to help a friend.

The state last week charged Schroeder with writing nearly $400,000 in bad checks, touching off a flurry of court filings, news reports of questionable business dealings and accusations by investors that Schroeder failed to repay millions of dollars in loans.

The authorities seized seven of Schroeder’s bank accounts held in various business names, including four accounts against which the bad checks were allegedly written.

Schroeder, a Washington Township resident, was elected to the Assembly in 2010. Since 2004, he has been one of the state’s leading Republican Party contributors, donating nearly $500,000, including almost $100,000 to the Bergen County Republican Party.

Two other Republican lawmakers from Bergen County — State Sen. Gerald Cardinale and Assemblyman David Russo — said they had not been contacted by the Attorney General’s Office.

"I have been very careful to separate my business dealings from political dealings," Cardinale said, adding that he declined to participate in an investment that Schroeder had approached him about "years ago."

"I had no interest in what he had in mind," he said.

Russo said Schroeder had contributed $3,000 to his campaign, but that he planned to donate the money to charity. State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex) donated $1,000 of Schroeder’s contributions to Wounded Warriors, which helps disabled veterans.

Schroeder’s company, All Points International Distributors, sells tents and prefabricated buildings to the military. The company has received more than $33 million in U.S. government contracts since 2005, mainly from the Department of Defense.

But any future dealings may now be imperiled. The inspector general for the federal General Services Administration is considering whether Schroeder and his company should be suspended or banned from doing any more work for the government because of the lawmaker’s recent troubles, according to a source familiar with the review who was not authorized to discuss the matter and requested anonymity.

An attorney for Schroeder, Michael Critchley, said today he was unaware of any action by the federal government, "but if we receive any notices, we will respond appropriately."


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