ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Hudson County Sheriff’s Chief John Bartucci has filed for bankruptcy, although the application omits a $90,000 judgment he has appealed for allowing a convicted loanshark to live undocumented for a decade in his Florida condominium, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has found.
In preparing this story, CLIFFVIEW PILOT obtained a copy of the Chapter 11 filing by Bartucci — the No. 2 official behind Hudson County Sheriff Juan Perez — from U.S. District Court in Trenton. It also retrieved court records detailing the chief’s ongoing dispute with the Dune Walk By The Ocean Condominium Association in Jensen Beach, FL.
Michael DaPuzzo (CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM photo; No re-use without hyperlink)
Michael DaPuzzo has been living rent-free in the South Florida condo since October, 2000, after having a similar arrangement with Bartucci in Hoboken, court records show.
According to a Florida judge, Bartucci made enough money renting the Hoboken apartment to afford setting up the reputed Genovese crime family associate at Dune Walk.
Bartucci, who lists his current home address in Jackson Township, gave DaPuzzo, 67, power of attorney in dealing with the condo association in April 2005, the records show.
A year later, the association sued Bartucci, 60, following its discovery that DaPuzzo never signed a lease, in violation of a condominium declaration.
According to court papers, DaPuzzo oversaw repairs made necessary in September 2004 by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. When an association manager audited the files months later to make sure all rules and regulations were followed, records show, she found that “the only unit without proper lease documentation” out of several hundred was Bartucci’s.
Repeated requests for the necessary paperwork were ignored, said attorneys for the board, which sued in April 2006.
Bartucci countered that DaPuzzo wasn’t a tenant, “but, rather, a guest,” and that the association had suddenly singled him out after years of not saying anything about the arrangement because DaPuzzo complained about the distribution of hurricane insurance proceeds.
The association’s lawyers responded with records — independently confirmed by CLIFFVIEW PILOT — showing that DaPuzzo’s driver’s license, automobile registrations, voting records, and utility bills all list Unit 919 at Dune Walk as his address.
At one point, DaPuzzo even served as treasurer on the condo association’s Board of Directors. He resigned after a background check turned up a 1999 conviction in Hudson County for “criminal usury” — loansharking. He was sentenced to three years’ probation in that case.
DaPuzzo clearly was attempting to remain “off the grid,” the association argued. What’s more, the lawyers contended that he subjected board members to verbal abuse, intimidation and threats because of the dispute.
After hearing both sides, Florida Judge Thomas J. Walsh Jr. ruled on May 12, 2010 that he believed that board members weren’t aware of the sweetheart deal until the post-hurricane audit.
DaPuzzo “is, at the very least, not a guest, and occupies the unit under a tenancy agreement,” wrote Walsh, sitting in Port St. Lucie. The judge also said it was “evident that both gentlemen desire to prevent any written record that may characterize Mr. DaPuzzo’s tenancy or occupancy.
“His antagonistic actions toward the Board of Directors, including threats, name calling and obstructionist behavior ‘on behalf of’ Mr. Bartucci are not actions of a guest,” Walsh added in the May 12, 2010 decision.
The judge then ordered Bartucci to either boot DaPuzzo from Unit 919 or produce the necessary paperwork, and to pay the condo association’s $89,187.11 legal bill.
ALSO SEE: Hudson sheriff’s top aide fighting court order over mobster’s use of condo
After several months passed, lawyers for the association petitioned Walsh to hold Bartucci in contempt for not complying. Bartucci appealed, and the matter has remained tied up in the courts.
Two months later, the chief filed for bankruptcy in Trenton. Then, last week, he submitted the lease application in Florida, records there show.
Bartucci’s Chapter 11 filing could thwart efforts by the condo association to collect the judgment. Under federal law, a bankruptcy filing grants an automatic stay to a debtor against all collection efforts.
“This case has taken a serious and mounting financial toll on a congenial oceanfront community,” said a member of Dune Walk, who spoke with CLIFFVIEW PILOT on condition of anonymity. “I hope that this omission won’t prevent us from eventually collecting moneys due.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.