2nd Life For Angelo Errichetti Camden's Ex-mayor, Stung In Abscam, Is Home From Prison

Posted: March 06, 1986

Exuding the same relaxed, dapper, confident style as when he was South Jersey's biggest political power, Angelo Errichetti returned home to Camden yesterday after serving 32 months in a federal prison.

"I feel great. The past is behind me. I'm starting life over," declared the 57-year-old two-term Camden mayor and former state senator.

Once considered the most powerful and popular Democrat in the southern half of the state, Errichetti was the first politician hooked by Abscam, the FBI sting that led to 19 convictions, including six congressmen and a U.S. senator.

He was paroled after serving less than half of a six-year term at a minimum-security facility in Danbury, Conn., where one of his roommates was the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

As soon as he arrived at the modest Camden house where he has lived most of his married life, Errichetti was playing the role of congenial host to old friends, neighbors and the press.

He is believed to be the last Abscam defendant to complete his prison term. ''I was first in and last out," he joked.

Characteristically, he seemed to enjoy being in the spotlight, once again bantering with reporters, chain-smoking, and kissing and embracing well- wishers.

"I regret my involvement and the mistakes that I made," he said. "I apologized before and I apologize again to my family and to the constituents that I let down. It was a dark period. I feel good that it's behind me."

While he denies any animosity or bitterness, he says, "Abscam was created by the government and they sought me out . . . I guess I had a weak spot. I believed in a fairy tales. I thought I was defrauding a rich sheik."

Actually, Errichetti was a key player, responsible for bringing many other politicians into contact with the men of "Abdul Enterprises."

In taped conversations, he boasted of his influence and connections with everyone from congressmen to organized crime to the state Casino Control

Commission.

"Politicians have a tendency to puff, and it can get you in trouble," Errichetti said yesterday. But he also claimed he was "coached" on what to say by Melvin Weinberg, the confessed con man who portrayed the phony sheik's chief agent.

In the book, "Sting Man," Weinberg offers praise of one con artist for another. "Angie Errichetti was one helluva guy. I really liked that man . . . He's got deals going all over the place and he's always looking for new ones."

Later, Weinberg praised Errichetti in a TV interview as a "stand-up guy" who never tried to deny or shift the blame after his arrest.

Errichetti was an All-State halfback at Camden High School in the late 1940s. He married his childhood sweetheart, Delores, known as "Dodi," 36 years ago. They have a 29-year-old daughter, who is single.

He worked in a family dry-cleaning store, operated his own real estate and insurance business and was appointed city purchasing agent in 1961. He became Camden's public works director in 1965 and was the city's Democratic chairman for 17 years.

He was one of the city's most popular mayors, winning two landslide victories in the 1970s and exercising complete control over city government and City Council.

While appealing his Abscam sentence, Errichetti became a truck broker, bringing together shippers and truckers.

He said he is not sure what he will do now. "It will be something in the private sector, something on my own, perhaps financial consulting."

He said any money he might have had has been spent on legal fees. There is a government suit against Errichetti and others seeking to recoup missing cash handed out during Abscam.

Errichetti was incarcerated with 200 mostly white-collar criminals in a facility without bars. "You could walk away if you wanted, but you'd never get back in again."

He wore civilian clothes, worked as a clerk in the food section and was called "mayor" by fellow inmates. "It wasn't a rough prison; there were many educated, extremely bright guys there - bank presidents, stockbrokers convicted of fraud - and I learned a lot. The problem was loneliness, bordeom and frustration.

"I've been blessed with an excellent wife and daughter. They've stuck it out with me. We're like three peas in a pod. Today I feel good. I have a lot of self-confidence. It's all behind me," he declared.

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