Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Richard Maragni, 63(1) 113 cats found

Livingston, NJ

Essex County

September 13, 2009  
Gloria Maragni, 63 113 cats found

Livingston, NJ

Essex County

September 13, 2008  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
  federal conviction for diverting funds from Seton Hall University 113 cats Alleged  

A New Jersey couple has been brought up on charges of animal cruelty after authorities uncovered 113 cats in their house.

Richard and Gloria Maragni, 63, of Livingston, had reportedly been allowing the animals to live in deplorable and unhealthy conditions with urine and feces on the floor. The New Jersey State Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it has levied a minimum of 600 cruelty charges each against the married couple.

Richard Maragni - a former finance officer at Seton Hall University - served over two years behind bars in 1995 after admitting to federal charges that he illegally diverted nearly $1 million in tuition funds. He reportedly spent the money on a summer home, among other luxuries.

  (Photo courtesy of WPIX)  SPCA agents apparently learned of the unsanitary conditions on Sept. 13 and worked out a deal with Richard Maragni, who promised to remove the cats.

The charges, which are slated to be heard in municipal court, allege the couple failed to provide adequate shelter and sustenance to the animals.

Richard Maragni theft of funds case info:
Two alleged mobsters pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges for their role in stealing nearly $1 million from Seton Hall University nearly five years ago.

Louis "Louie Dome" Pacella and Dominick "Pepe" Pietranico both identified as part of a Mafia family by federal authorities admitted their part in the theft, which was carried out with help from former university treasurer Richard Maragni and another alleged Genovese family associate, Michael Lepelletieri.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Zachary W. Carter said Maragni forged two checks for $491,000 and $495,000 in March 1990 and January 1991 from the Catholic school in South Orange, NJ, and handed them to Pacella, 74, who operated out of Veniero's, a Manhattan bakery. Pacella then gave the checks to Lepelletieri, who laundered the money through several bank accounts, Carter said. Lepelletieri withdrew the money in increments under $10,000 to avoid filing currency transaction reports, and then handed the money back to Pacella or his associate, Pietranico, 65.

Pacella would then phone Maragni, telling him to come to the bakery where "the cake was ready." Maragni's share of the money was turned over to him in cardboard cake boxes, Carter said.

Maragni amassed three homes and a boat on his $45,000 salary from the university run by the Archdiocese of Newark, officials said.

Pacella, Maragni and Pietranico have also admitted they tried to obstruct the federal grand jury investigation into the Seton Hall theft. Maragni admitted lying to jurors and then giving Pacella and Pietranico a list of the questions he was asked and how he answered. Those two, in turn, passed it on to Lepelletieri, who was by then cooperating with authorities, Carter said.

The guilty pleas put an end to the case. Maragni and Lepelletieri were convicted last September.

Lepelletieri received a 41-month prison term and is cooperating with authorities, Carter said. Maragni received 30 months in prison on the original theft charge and is awaiting sentencing on his guilty plea of lying to a federal grand jury.

Pacella, of Manhattan, and Pietranico, of Bellmore, Long Island, face a maximum of 20 years in prison, plus restitution, when sentenced by U.S. Judge Eugene Nickerson at a later date.

Update 10/16/09:  New Jersey animal welfare agents said they have been hunting for more than 113 cats that were being kept at a Bayville home they surrounded earlier this week, contending the animals were secretly relocated before agents arrived there and filed hundreds of cruelty charges against a couple accused of hoarding the felines.

"About 60 of the cats have since been found in the North Jersey area, but they are looking for the others," said Matt Stanton, a spokesman for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Agents filed 600 charges each against Richard and Gloria Maragni, both 63, of Spring Road in Livingston, claming they had collected more than 113 cats inside a relative's home on Spinnaker Court in the Bayville section of Berkley Township. The agents, contending the cats were living in deplorable, unhealthy conditions, went to the home Wednesday to remove them, but discovered later that night that the felines had been secretly removed.

"We want to know where they went," said Stanton, contending the couple is obligated to show authorities that the cats were not harmed or relocated to a place with equally deplorable conditions.

Thomas Tucker, an attorney for Richard Maragni , said his client has been innocently caught up in the situation and had nothing to do with the case.  "Richard was not involved in putting the cats at that home and he is not responsible for removing them. He tried to help out relatives and got caught up in this," the lawyer explained, contending Maragni tried to help his relatives negotiate with the SPCA.

The situation began in early September, according to the SPCA, when agents learned that more than 113 cats were inside the Bayville home, checked out the house and began talking to the Maragnis. A deal was struck, according to the SPCA, for the Maragnis to surrender 10 cats each week to local animal shelters. The SPCA said the Maragnis reneged on the deal, so agents went to the home to seize the cats. Tucker said the Maragnis have not owned the home since the 1990s, when they sold it to Mrs. Maragni's sister and brother-in-law, who were involved in animal rescue work.

"I don't know how the cats got there or where they went. But it had nothing to do with my client," he added, referring to Richard Maragni .


WPIX  The Star-Ledger