N.J. freeholder resigns after photo scandal

Louis N. Magazzu said his lawyer would look into the publication.
Louis N. Magazzu said his lawyer would look into the publication.
Posted: August 03, 2011

A South Jersey Democrat who allegedly took nude pictures of himself and e-mailed them to a Chicago woman he had never met resigned Tuesday as a Cumberland County freeholder.

The naked photos of Louis N. Magazzu, 53, were posted last month on a website (magazzuwatch.com) created by a political opponent, Carl B. Johnson of Millville.

Shortly afterward, Magazzu was confronted by Freeholder Director Bill Whelan, also a Democrat.

"I asked Mr. Magazzu to step down three weeks ago," Whelan said. "At the time, he said no.

"Now that he has, I'm relieved for the people of Cumberland County. I hope we can put all this behind us."

Magazzu, who until recently had been chairman of the county Democratic Party, hired a lawyer this week to try to have the pictures removed from the website.

On Tuesday afternoon, Magazzu announced his resignation. A freeholder spokeswoman confirmed that her office received his resignation letter about 3:15 p.m.

In a statement, Magazzu wrote:

". . . [I]n my personal life, I did not always demonstrate the wisdom and balance that I expected from myself, and that the people of Cumberland County deserve and have every right to expect.

"As a consequence, a woman who I have never met personally, but have corresponded with on the Internet for several years, has recently shared some photographs which she requested and that were intended only for her eyes. I did not know that she was working with an avowed political enemy to distribute these pictures."

Magazzu said his attorney, a former federal prosecutor, would try to determine whether laws had been broken by the unauthorized distribution of the pictures.

Johnson, a Republican activist, told the Associated Press that he was happy Magazzu was leaving office and that he would consider taking down the photos.

"He should have stepped down a long time ago for many reasons. His brand of politics is harmful to the entire political process," Johnson said, adding: "I'm sorry it had to happen this way."

Johnson said he started his website three years ago after a dispute with Magazzu over claims about property taxes. Johnson decided to post the photos because Magazzu had brought up Johnson's family and back child-support payments during their squabble, he said.

Magazzu has been separated from his wife for almost two years. He has five children.

Magazzu said no government services or devices were used to take or transmit the pictures to the woman in Chicago.

Magazzu was first elected freeholder in 1997. His current term was to have expired in December 2012. He served as chairman of the Department of Public Safety and was a member of the Departments of Agriculture and Public Works.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796, samwood@phillynews.com.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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