State AG subpoenas 6 Cruz supporters

Posted: December 08, 2010

The political feud between the Tartaglione family and state Rep. Angel Cruz took yet another turn yesterday, when the state Attorney General's Office subpoenaed six Cruz supporters to testify before a grand jury tomorrow.

That came one day after the Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced that Deputy City Commissioner Renee Tartaglione Matos retired last month after admitting that she had violated the city charter by engaging in political activity against Cruz and his supporters.

The Attorney General's Office confirmed in June that it opened an investigation based on a referral from the city District Attorney's Office. The D.A. had received a complaint about improper election activities from Jonathan Ramos, the Tartaglione-backed candidate who unsuccessfully challenged Cruz twice for his state House 180th District seat.

Cruz yesterday accused the Tartaglione family - mother Marge is chairwoman of the City Commission, sister Tina is a state senator and Renee's husband, Carlos Matos, is leader of the 19th Ward - of targeting him as a political threat to Tina Tartaglione's state Senate seat.

"They're using that office for the wrong purposes," Cruz said.

Cruz said agents for the Attorney General's Office have been asking questions for two months about how his nominating petitions were circulated before the May primary election.

Ramos claims that Cruz circulated petitions this year both to run for re-election and to challenge Tina Tartaglione in her Senate district, but then improperly submitted all the names for only his House re-election race.

Carol Evangelista, a Democratic City Committee member and wife of Cruz's district-office manager, said a subpoena was delivered to her home yesterday morning.

"We didn't do anything wrong," Evangelista said of the Cruz supporters who must testify before a grand jury at the attorney general's regional office in Norristown. "I don't do anything illegal. I never have and I never will."

Cruz said he has twice written to the Attorney General's Office seeking an investigation into the Tartaglione family's actions but had received no response.

A spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett, who takes office as governor in January, declined to comment on the subpoenas or Cruz's comment.

Cruz also produced a letter from the Board of Ethics confirming that his complaint against Renee Tartaglione Matos prompted the investigation that led her to admit last month to nine city charter violations from 2007 to 2009.

Cruz said he used his cell-phone camera to take a picture of her taking checks at a Democratic City Committee meeting to pay for Election Day campaign workers, one of the violations.

She is also accused of raising cash to challenge Cruz, buying campaign literature to support Ramos and running a pre-election 19th Ward meeting while her husband was in federal prison.

Tartaglione Matos resigned last month, four days after the Board of Ethics alerted her that it had found probable cause that she violated the city charter. She agreed to pay a $2,700 fine and can't seek or hold a city job for one year. A city employee for 27 years, she is receiving a $4,237 monthly pension.

Her attorney, William Brennan, yesterday called the violations no more serious that a traffic ticket.

"The fact that the board was willing to resolve it so quickly and amicably speaks to the fact that these were technical violations," Brennan said.

Marge Tartaglione yesterday dismissed Cruz's claims that her family went after him politically.

"I never did anything against him," she said. "He can say anything he wants. It don't bother me. I know my family."

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