TRENTON (AP) – Gov. Jon S. Corzine gave $15,000 to his former girlfriend’s brother-in-law after forcing him to quit a Turnpike Authority job the administration helped him get, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported.
In the week of Aug. 26, Corzine acknowledged giving two gifts to Rocco Riccio – $10,000 this spring and $5,000 this summer – in payments drawn by the governor’s personal lawyer.
The multimillionaire governor told the newspaper he acted out of a “sense of human responsibility” to a friend who lost his job and that he didn’t view the gifts as an ongoing commitment to union leader Carla Katz or her family.
“I did not think of this as a tie to Carla, period,” the governor said. “The guy is on the edge of losing his house. I know it. And I feel like he helped me. And I have the ability to help him.”
Riccio is married to Katz’s sister, Genise.
The gift disclosure comes long after Corzine assured voters he had severed financial ties to Katz, whom he dated before becoming governor.
He acknowledged during the 2005 gubernatorial campaign that he gave his ex nearly a half-million dollars to pay off her Hunterdon County home. The New York Times this year reported that he had actually given her much more – as much as $6 million.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority hired Riccio after Corzine’s office forwarded his resum? to it. But Riccio resigned two weeks into the job.