- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) - An attorney representing the estate of a reputed northern New Jersey mobster is trying to unseal records related to a gambling investigation.

Frank Lagano was one of the targets in a gambling and racketeering investigation more than a decade ago. He was shot in the head in 2007 while the criminal investigation and forfeiture action were ongoing.

Authorities arrested dozens of people in the so-called Operation Jersey Boyz. Guns, drugs and more than $1 million were seized. But a state judge found there were missteps in the investigation and some of the charges were dismissed while others resulted in plea deals. No one received prison time. Many of the documents related to the case remain sealed.

The Record newspaper (https://bit.ly/1NDf0fK ) reported that Eric Kleiner, the attorney for Lagano’s estate, filed a motion Wednesday in Paterson Superior Court seeking to unseal “impounded records, wiretaps” and other evidence.

The family of the former Tenafly resident filed a federal suit accusing Michael Mordaga, the former chief of detectives for the Bergen County prosecutor’s office, of leaking his identity as an informant after a “falling out.” The suit states Lagano and Mordaga, who is now the director of the Hackensack police, had a “personal and business relationship.”

Mordaga has denied the claims. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli has said the office looked at the accusations and deemed them unfounded. Molinelli said he thinks the federal suit was filed to put pressure on his office to return seized assets that were the product of gambling, money laundering and extortion.

A state appellate panel ruled earlier this month that the family can try to collect the money seized by authorities.

Kleiner’s motion to unseal the documents states that prosecutors seized about $234,000 after Lagano’s December 2004 arrest and that about $130,000 is unaccounted for.

The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

___

Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), https://www.northjersey.com

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