By Joseph Snook
New Jersey – In 2011, Andrew Lucas was the mayor of New Jersey’s Manalapan Township. Today, Lucas is in prison. The details surrounding Lucas’ conviction are troubling, to say the least, and include the possibility of a government conspiracy to take down NJ Governor Chris Christie. The never-before-been-told events in this case are quite telling of a government whose overreach goes far beyond the seeking of mere justice but of creating a case out of thin air, causing a reportedly innocent man to lose his freedom.
In April 2012, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman opened an investigation into Robert Schroeder with the suspected intent of creating a case against NJ Governor Chris Christie. Schroeder was a NJ State Legislator, fundraiser and supporter of the Governor, and owner of a federal defense contracting company. Schroeder’s company was flagged by the Defense Department, and at the time of the investigation by US Attorney Fishman, Schroeder reportedly had over $18 million in liabilities. The investigation likely hindered Schroeder’s ability to repay his creditors. It was alleged he would not cooperate with U.S. Attorney Fishman’s attempts to create a case against the Governor.
While the Grand Jury for Schroder was impaneled, witnesses believe U.S. Attorney Fishman went on a fishing (no pun intended) expedition for associates of Schroeder who had ties with Governor Christie.
Another Assistant U.S. Attorney working the case, John Clabby, noticed a college classmate of his on Schroeder’s list of creditors – Andrew Lucas, owner of a small financial investment firm. Lucas was involved politically, serving his eighth year as an elected township official, and had made numerous calls to the Governor’s office regarding governmental matters. At the time of the investigation, Lucas claims he was, “being advised by George Gilmore, a close confidant of Gov. Christie’s” in regards to a loan he and a few other investors had previously made to Schroeder – a loan that had nothing to do with Governor Christie.
Six investors associated with Lucas received Grand Jury subpoenas and were visited by several armed federal agents who allegedly told each of them that all of their money was gone. This act alone would suggest to any investor that Lucas had swindled them, when in reality their money was, according to someone close to the investigation, “in safe investments like cash and money market funds.” Perhaps the agents were soliciting negative reports – even if those reports only reflected the coerced anxieties of investors. Supposedly, the only way investors would receive any recovery of their funds was to cooperate in a case targeting Lucas.
Informants have stated that after being coerced, all six investors complied with the subpoenas, but all emphatically stated Lucas represented the Schroeder loan honestly and had done nothing wrong. This part of the investigation came to a dead end as federal agents allegedly found no wrongdoing by Lucas. This meant US Attorney Fishman and lead FBI Agent, James D’Orio, could not use Lucas to build a case against Governor Christie or even George Gilmore or Robert Schroeder, which was reportedly the reason why Lucas was being investigated from the onset.
“Let’s set up Lucas.” –FBI Agent James D’Orio
- Furthermore, Lucas had no apparent criminal history, which prevented the FBI from coercing Lucas into helping manufacture a criminal case against Gov. Christie. Shortly after learning this information, and with no smoking gun suspect, FBI Agent D’ Orio emailed his task force saying, “Let’s set up Lucas.” Apparently Lucas was the man who had the most to lose – young family, budding political career, sole business owner, and thus the most likely to cooperate in building their case against Governor Christie.
Continuing to pursue Lucas, Federal Prosecutors subpoenaed over 18,000 pages of documents, forcing Lucas to participate in an effort to find a crime he claims he never committed.
The FBI interviewed neighbors, political opponents, college roommates, and even Lucas’ wife’s employer. Coincidentally, at this same time, an IRS investigator also began contacting Lucas to go over old tax returns.
In March of 2013, federal investigators found an angle to pursue against Lucas. Three years earlier, in March 2010, Lucas, his wife, and father purchased Burke Farm. Lucas was an established farmer in the community, and he had farmed land adjacent to Burke Farm with his family for more than two decades. According to witnesses, Lucas obtained a loan for $250,000 from his friend, Robert Janowski, to help fund the down payment for Burke Farm. The signed loan agreement was to be repaid within two years, with six-percent interest, after Lucas obtained funds from the popular NJ Farmland Preservation Program.
Lucas obtained the Farmland Preservation funds in the beginning of 2013, and repaid Robert Janowski. There is no dispute Lucas repaid the full principal of $250,000, plus an additional interest payment of $53,000. Despite repaying the loan, Lucas was found guilty for defrauding Janowski. How could that be when Janowski was repaid in full? The crime was allegedly based on the claim that Lucas falsely represented the purpose of the loan, even though the Note contained no statement of purpose.
Robert Janowski, who was repaid in full, with additional interest for the loan he provided, initially declined several attempts to meet with federal agents. The agents then found his sister-in-law, Wendi Janowski (Wendi) , who reportedly saw an opportunity for herself. According to witness statements, Wendi portrayed Janowski as crazy, and said she hadn’t seen him in years. She allegedly banished him from her house when she reportedly accused him of doing improper things around her children. It was alleged Wendi had sought hundreds of thousands of dollars, inherited by Janowski, after his mother passed away. Witnesses implied Wendi suddenly wanted to be heavily involved with Janowski’s affairs. Did this sudden interest stem from a sweet financial incentive?
Janowski indicated to witnesses that the allegations made against him by Wendi were false. This occurred after the executor of his mom’s estate presented a letter Wendi signed stating that Janowski was giving her half of his inheritance. According to witness reports, Janowski, “told the executor that he did not agree to Wendi’s proposal.”
Sources say Janowski’s mother had made it clear to the executor that her son would receive a larger inheritance because he had worked at the family business for over 30 years, and taken care of his mother while she was suffering from cancer, something Wendi had never done.
The executor was Mark Godek, a Janowski family friend who apparently discharged his duty correctly, closing out the estate in 2008, and continued to ensure Janowski was financially stable.
Godek also happened to know Lucas, by this point, for nearly 20 years. He entrusted Lucas as his office manager and cashier at his privately owned business while Lucas was in high school and college. Lucas stated, “Godek’s business would typically earn $200,000 in cash every few days during the busy holiday seasons.” Reportedly, when Lucas approached Godek about obtaining a loan for $250,000 [for the down payment for Burke Farm], Godek considered Janowski as a potential lender, having previously noticed Janowski had most of his money in a money market account for over a year.
According to sources, Godek arranged a meeting between Lucas and Janowski. Godek also inspected the subject farm with Lucas several times, and was present during the final meeting when the loan agreement between Janowski and Lucas was finalized.
Around July 2014, Godek admitted these facts to Lucas’ investigator prior to trial. But, when the IRS and other federal agents showed up at Godek’s business, his memory seemingly failed, and he reportedly claimed to barely know Lucas. During a subsequent conversation with this writer, Godek continued to minimize his friendship with Lucas.
According to Lucas, “When Godek remembered he had given me a last minute, $7,000 loan for unexpected closing costs on the subject property, he told federal investigators that I had requested the money for a vacation. I never borrowed money for a vacation from Godek. The loan was provided specifically for closing costs.”
According to one source, given the fact Godek’s business requires regulatory approval from the federal government, and that his business has also reportedly generated a large amount of cash receipts that may not be correctly included in his annual tax returns, in addition to a number of mortgage applications possibly submitted with inaccurate information, Godek allegedly knew cooperating and telling a story in-line with the federal investigators was his best option to alleviate any potential blow back.
Federal agents interrogated Robert Janowski at length. After several meetings with agents, Janowski reportedly claimed Lucas told him the $250,000 loan was for stock, even though the loan document doesn’t state a purpose. Lucas maintains Janowski knew it was a loan for the farm, paying 6 percent interest. The stress from constant federal pressure reportedly impacted Janowski to the point he was finally admitted to a behavorial health services department, requiring prescriptions for antipsychotic meds Ziprasidone, Trazodone and Lithium, used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and manic episodes. Sources stated Janowski testified at trial, heavily medicated, while assisting the government to win a wire fraud conviction, costing Lucas a three year prison sentence.
The government found one other favorable witness in Lucas’ cousin, Thomas Littlefield. Littlefield works as a bureaucrat for the federal government, reportedly making over six-figures annually, with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The business relationship between Lucas and Littlefield dated back to 2003 when Littlefield served as the Managing Member for a small investment in oil & gas ventures. Because Littlefield was living in Georgia and Lucas in New Jersey, in 2008 Littlefield reportedly authorized Lucas to have a signature stamp made, intended for Lucas to use for business purposes. According to Lucas, “When Tom was at my home in early 2009 celebrating our grandmother’s 90th birthday, I explained that I was going to create a holding company to consolidate many of the family’s smaller investments, with Tom confirming that he would continue as the managing member.”
When federal agents knocked on Tom Littlefield’s door in March of 2013, he quickly retained legal representation. Littlefield testified to the Grand Jury that he never gave permission for Lucas to sign any documents for the company with his signature stamp. At trial, Littlefield was shown the fax he sent to Lucas containing three of his original signatures. Littlefield skirted the “fax” issue being sent for a signature stamp, arguing his signature was approved for a one-time use only, for a previous business venture, around 2005. He also seemed to forget that he had told federal agents that the stamp was possibly to be used for his personal tax returns from 2002-2008. Shockingly, the fax containing Littlefield’s signatures was not sent until January of 2008, which is more consistent with Lucas’ testimony. As of late 2015, Littlefield was hesitant to communicate about Lucas, maintaining his original claim that, “Lucas didn’t have permission” to use the stamp.
While speaking with Lucas’ family members, it became apparent that Littlefield, like Godek, was fearful of the federal government, likely causing both him and Godek to reportedly change the facts surrounding Lucas in an attempt to alleviate any criminal charges or investigation against either of them.
“…The jury was not allowed to hear that at trial.”
Lucas was charged and convicted of aggravated identity theft, for the signature stamp, and was sentenced to 2 years, in addition to the 3 years for wire fraud. Furthermore, Lucas stated, “the government fought tooth and nail to prevent me from using a defense that neither ‘victim’ suffered any loss because of my accused crimes, and in fact both profited grandly! The jury was not allowed to hear that at trial.”
In summary, Lucas was convicted for wire fraud, when Robert Janowski was not a complainant, did not suffer loss, and profited from his dealings with Lucas. The conviction was based on the claim that Lucas verbally misrepresented the purpose of the loan, which turned into wire fraud, to elicit the maximum punitive value for the alleged offense. For this “fake” crime, Lucas was sentenced to 3 years. Lucas was also convicted of identity theft on the verbal testimony of Littlefield, that he did not give Lucas permission to use his signature with the exception of a one-time use sometime prior to 2008, although the signature samples were not faxed until January 2008. Littlefield also was not a complainant, nor did he suffer loss. Again, the prosecution successfully fought to prevent the jury from hearing that the “alleged” victims did not suffer any loss whatsoever.
Today, Andrew Lucas, husband and father of three young children, also the former Manalapan Township Mayor, is fighting for his innocence from prison. Lucas truly believes his arrest and conviction stems from one of two possibilities. The first is undue criticism caused by political adversaries who were not fond of an elected Mayor taking advantage of the farmland preservation act. The second, which this writer believes is more plausible, is an attempt, at all costs, to get someone close to Governor Chris Christie or Robert Schroeder to provide incriminating information against the governor, immediately preceding the infamous Bridgegate scandal.
This is an active US~Observer investigation. If you have any information regarding anyone involved in this article, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 541-474-7785.