New Jersey not just ‘Garden State’

Political corruption and organized crime have a long-running history in New Jersey, as students and faculty learned when the authors of “The Soprano State” were brought to campus by the College Democrats to discuss their book last Wednesday.

Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure collaborated for more than three decades worth of investigative reporting that became the book.

“We were able to connect the dots . and the picture of New Jersey that emerges is not pretty,” McClure said.

The subject matter of “The Soprano State” has merited some giggles in New Jersey, but ultimately is no laughing matter.

Named after the well-known HBO show “The Sopranos,” the book covers everything from the ridiculous antics of New Jersey politicians, law enforcement and mobsters to their far more shocking crimes.

McClure and Ingle gave examples from their book, including the story of Administrative Law Judge Florence Schreiber Powers who tried to shoplift two watches from a T.J. Maxx in Lawrenceville and blamed it on the fact that her toilet would not stop running, among other things. She is still serving as a judge today.

Ingle also mentioned former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, who appointed the man with whom he was having an extramarital affair to the position of Homeland Security Advisor. Today, McGreevey teaches ethics classses part-time at Kean University.

“It’s our fault, the voters,'” Ingle said. “We keep electing the people who are doing these things. That’s why people think it’s funny in other states.” Ingle added that most people in New Jersey do not keep up with politics.

The mob plays a big role in the book, and McClure and Ingle specifically mentioned organized crime in Atlantic City. Ingle said that while precautions have been taken to keep the mafia out of Atlantic City, including the formation of the Casino Control Commission, which aims to keep the casinos clean, there was a problem because the mob was already present there and had been involved for a long time.

“Back in the days of Al Capone, there was actually a mobster convention in Atlantic City,” Ingle said.

McClure and Ingle also told the audience that the book publishers were afraid of readers not believing everything that was in the book because some of the material just seemed so incredible. As a result, about a third of the original draft was cut out.

When a student in the audience asked if there was anything College students could do to help fight corruption, Ingle said, “Don’t ever compromise your integrity.”

Both Ingle and McClure are veteran journalists.

McClure has won multiple awards and is widely recognized for her longtime coverage of government and corruption in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Ingle has worked at various newspapers, as well as for The Associated Press. He also currently appears regularly on 101.5 FM’s “Jersey Guys” show.

More information on “The Soprano State” and its authors can be found at thesopranostate.com.

Brianna Gunter can be reached at gunter2@tcnj.edu.