Angelo J. Errichetti, 84, a former Camden mayor and state senator who was South Jersey's premier Democratic power broker in the decade leading to his 1981 bribery conviction in the Abscam scandal, has died.
During two mayoral terms starting in 1973, he built a reputation as an unflagging booster for his hometown, where his father, a Neapolitan immigrant, had stoked coal at the shipyard to feed seven children. Mr. Errichetti's efforts to revive Camden's moribund economy were said to occupy 12 hours on an average day, yet he took on a second office simultaneously.
In 1976, he was chosen to fill a vacancy in the state Senate, then ran for and won a full term the following year.
"He exemplified what a mayor should be," said Richard Cinaglia, whom Mr. Errichetti appointed as the city's comptroller and director of finance.
"He was passionate about Camden and gave everybody a sense that the city was coming back. He had a way of inspiring people and making them optimistic. That will be part of his legacy."
Former Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, who was a PTA parent and committeewoman when Mr. Errichetti urged her toward city government, noted his "real compassion" for his constituents.
"I learned [from him] to love the people," said Faison, who would spend 16 years on City Council and nine as mayor. He taught her, as well, "to listen to them."
However, Mr. Errichetti's career in elected office, indeed in South Jersey politics, ended ignominiously. He was the first figure to emerge, red-handed on tape, in the 23-month-long FBI sting known as Abscam.
He served as the unwitting liaison between federal agents masquerading as wealthy Arabs and public officials on the take. The fake sheiks bribed them hundreds of thousands of dollars for their influence in purported U.S. investments.