New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Victor Salgado told the jury in the trial of North Bergen Department of Public Works Supervisors Francis Longo and Troy Bunero that “following orders” is never an excuse to break the law.
“In the last few weeks, you’ve seen and heard evidence that proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the facts and the evidence we’ve charged against the defendants actually happened,” Salgado said at the beginning of his closing statements in Hudson County Superior Court this morning.
” … They’re [the defense’s] response is that the other members of the conspiracy, [ex-Superintendent] James Wiley and [ex-Director] Timothy Grossi, ordered them to do that.”
Salgado explained that he found the argument that Longo and Bunero “were just following orders” to be, at best, an insufficient legal defense.
“Following orders, ‘I’m sorry, I was just following orders,’ never was, and never will be, an excuse for criminal behavior.”
Salgado also stated that with all the effort the defense team put into attacking the character of Wiley, he was actually very close to Longo and Bunero – personally hiring both of them, and later hiring Longo’s son and Bunero’s brother, respectively, when they needed work.
Furthermore, he claimed that Wiley, Longo and Bunero would interrogate North Bergen DPW workers once it became known they were meeting with members of the state Attorney General’s Office.
“[They would] call them into the back room, sit them down and ask them: ‘What did you tell them! What do they know!’ Whose the rat that turned us in!’ They wanted to find out whether or not we had them in trouble or not. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the very definition of a conspiracy.”
The jury was charged late this afternoon and will resume deliberations early tomorrow morning.