Stafford Mayor Nominated As “Worst Public Official”
Caught Lying About Military Service, Spodofora Still Re-Elected
For the first installment in our new series highlighting lies, greed & corruption around the county, our readers have nominated Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora to our list of the top 10 worst public officials in Ocean County.
Despite being exposed earlier in 2015 for lying to the public about his military service during the Vietnam war, Spodofora managed to win re-election in 2015.
Spodofora’s win came after a faction of the Stafford Township GOP led by Councilman Henry Mancini attempted to depose the embattled mayor in a primary challenge, with the “Common Sense Conservatives” putting forward a full slate of candidates. If the Mancini faction were to have gained control of the council, insiders have speculated that Ocean County Administrator (and longtime Stafford political player) Carl Block would have gotten the job as township administrator should they have wrested control of Stafford Township.
“Stolen Valor” In Stafford
Mayor Spodofora’s “stolen valor” scandal started when concerned residents began to point out inconsistencies in the claims the mayor made about his Vietnam service record for political points.
Phony “Medal Of Valor” Came From Hunting Club
On his campaign website Spodofora claimed to have received a “medal of valor” for his service in Vietnam, implying that he received an official US Navy honor.
Despite the Vietnam War ending decades ago, Spodofora’s response to inquiries from the public was to claim that the specific work he did during the war was still “classified,” a tactic often used by military imposters to get away with making false claims about service without actually explaining them.
Specifically, a Spodofora campaign website claimed that he was a “Vietnam War Medal of Valor recipient.” No such award actually exists. The federal Stolen Valor Act only makes it a crime to claim to have received an award that actually exists, so it’s unlikely that Spodofora could face prosecution.
The so-called “Medal of Valor” he received wasn’t actually from any branch of the military, according to the Star-Ledger it was given to Spodofora by a hunting club based out of Tucson, Arizona – not the US Navy.
According to military records obtained by the Press of Atlantic City, Spodofora was indeed enlisted in the US Navy during the Vietnam War from 1966 – 1973, but served in the Caribbean – never setting foot in Vietnam, despite exaggerated claims made by the mayor both publicly and privately surrounding his service.
According to the records, Spodofora was stationed in the Caribbean during the war and repaired cryptographic machines aboard naval ships.
Initially, the Stafford mayor dug himself deeper, claiming to have been a “spook” involved in spying operations. After a series of confrontations, Spodofora later publicly admitted that his “feet were not in Vietnam.”
The man at the center of exposing Spodofora, Earl Galloway, a retired US Navy Master Chief works with a national group to expose military imposters publicly outed Spodofora and created a satirical Facebook page criticizing the mayor and drawing attention to the inconsistencies in Spodofora’s story.
Used Police To Harass Foe
Despite the page created by Spodofora’s critic clearly criticizing him over lies and exaggerations related to his service, the mayor tried to claim that the page mocking him was “identity theft” and contacted Stafford Police Chief Joseph Giberson, whom he oversees as mayor, to launch a criminal investigation into the page’s creator, Mr. Galloway.
Public records show how far the investigation went, with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office approving a subpoena for Galloway’s email, and Facebook accounts. Because the page was administered from his computer at his civillian job at Naval Weapons Station Earle, NCIS investigators searched Galloway’s computer.
No criminal wrongdoing was found after the investigation into Galloway.
But Spodofora was still provided with a copy of every file pertaining to him on Mr. Galloway’s computer.
Galloway subsequently filed suit against the township and police department, with the suit still working its way through the legal system.
The full police investigation narrative is below:
For lying to the public about his military record, making every attempt to cover it up, and for using the township’s police department to harass the man who shed light on his lies, Stafford Mayor John Spodofora is a strong contender for a spot on our list of Ocean County’s top 10 worst public officials.