Christie urges judge to go easy on Craig Carton, a childhood rape survivor
Facing a sentence of up to 45 years in federal prison, former Jersey radio personality Craig Carton is begging for leniency, saying he is the survivor of childhood rape and that he is a recovering gambling addict.
In his corner is former federal prosecutor and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was one of 90 people to write letters to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon extolling Carton's character.
Carton, who was convicted in November of fraud for swindling investors in a ticket reselling business, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5.
During his trial, defense attorneys argued that was victimized by another businessman. Prosecutors said Carton had misappropriated at least $5.6 million.
Carton was co-host of WFAN's "Boomer and Carton." He rose to fame as the afternoon host on New Jersey 101.5 from 2002 to 2007.
Known for his brash and caustic style on air, the letters of recommendation from longtime friends, police officers, media and nonprofit executives, parents of children he has helped, and former colleagues at New Jersey 101.5, paint a picture of a much gentler and caring man off the airwaves.
“Mr. Carton has single-handedly changed the course of the lives for countless people through his sheer time and energy, including many children suffering from Tourette Syndrome,” according to a brief filed this week by his attorney, Derrelle M. Janey of the Manhattan firm Gottlieb & Janey.
Two of Carton's four children were diagnosed with Tourette. The filing points out that Carton help found Tic Toc Stop Foundation and a camp for children with the condition, raising more than a half a million dollars for research. He also has raised more than $100,000 for families of slain and injured police officers.
Christie's three-page letter calls Carton "one of the most generous friends I have ever met."
"In my dealings with Craig I have always found him to be honest and forthright," Christie writes. "I urge the Court to show compassion to Craig when deciding on sentencing. I do not believe that Craig is a danger to society."
Carton's filing “acknowledges and accepts that he committed crimes.” It also points to his "severe gambling addiction" and “repeated instances of childhood rape” and “horrific and repeated instances of childhood traumas.”
While his suffering is not an excuse for his crimes, his lawyers argue that it should mitigate his sentencing.
Lawyers also argue that locking up Carton for a long time will not benefit justice because Carton can do more to pay back his victims if he is able to work. His lawyers say WFAN, which once paid him more than $2 million a year, would be willing to rehire Carton as long as his sentence does not incarcerate him.
His lawyers say Carton checked himself into a rehab facility after his arrest and has continued to attend Gambler's Anonymous meetings in New Jersey and New York. He also self-excluded himself from New Jersey internet gaming sites with the state Division of Gambling Enforcement.
The public legal filing does not include details of Carton's sexual abuse. The filing does include an unpublished draft chapter of a book Carton wrote and an assessment prepared by Dr. Marc Potenza, a senior research scientist at the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling and a Yale medical school psychiatry professor, but both are redacted.
Carton was initially supposed to be sentenced last month but his attorney asked for more time in order to complete a psychological evaluation.
Among the people who wrote the judge on behalf of Carton were former WFAN co-host Boomer Esiason, former New Jersey 101.5 radio partner Ray Rossi, former newspaper columnist Bob Ingle, New Jersey comedian and radio host Joe Piscopo, "American Idol" finalist Constantine Maroulis, and former NFL player and sports broadcaster Chris Simms.
Mike Nichols, a former Monroe High School hockey player who suffered a paralyzing neck injury in 2014, called Carton "an amazing man who has gone above and beyond for my family and I."
"Craig gave me his word that his phone number would always work for me and, on multiple occasions, he made himself available when I needed someone to talk to," his letter to the judge says. "If it wasn't for Craig I don't know where my family and I would even be. Despite everything I will forever be grateful for Craig Carton."
You can read all the letters here.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.