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DiFrancesco admits selling house to man he 'never met'

Originally appeared in the Star Ledger on 03/31/01

Acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco yesterday acknowledged that he sold real estate to a man his spokesman and personal attorney had previously said DiFrancesco had never encountered.

The question of DiFrancesco's involvement with Patrick Bavosa arose because the acting governor has contended that his signature was forged on a mortgage for a 1989 loan. According to mortgage records on file at the Union County Courthouse, DiFrancesco and his brother, Paul, borrowed a total of $95,000 in 1989 from Patrick, Angelo, Caesar and Frank Bavosa, a Union County family in the trash- hauling business.

Paul DiFrancesco said the mortgage was mistakenly filed and that he never collected on the loans. He later defaulted on additional loans to the Bavosas, which he never paid back after filing for bankruptcy.

When questioned about the records earlier this week, DiFrancesco's spokesman, Tom Wilson, said the acting Governor's signature on the loan had been forged. Wilson also said the acting Governor told him, "I've never met anybody named Bavosa in my life."

DiFrancesco's personal attorney also sent a letter to The Star-Ledger saying the acting Governor "was not involved in any respect in any mortgage transaction" and had "no business dealings whatsoever" with the family, the Bavosas.

However, a review of property records shows that the acting governor, his wife and a law partner sold a house in Plainfield to Patrick Bavosa in 1976 for $68,500.

The acting Governor declined to comment on the Plainfield transaction, Wilson said, because he needed more time to review his files.

"It certainly was not an intentional contradiction on his part," Wilson. "That's well beyond his and most normal people's recollection. This is one small single day in the guy's life 25 years ago."

Wilson also said he had misinterpreted the acting Governor's comments about the Bavosas.

"What he said is, 'I don't know these Bavosas,' " said Wilson.

Two of the Bavosa bothers, Frank and Angelo, were senior officers in Highway Disposal Corp. when that company pleaded guilty to price fixing in 1983.

Patrick Bavosa said he called Paul DiFrancesco when he saw the Plainfield house was for sale. He said he only met Donald DiFrancesco at the house closing and never knew him socially.

"I really don't want to get mixed up in this," he said. "Everything we did was on the up and up."

He declined to discuss the 1989 mortgage involving the DiFrancesco brothers.

"All I know is I lost money in the deal," he said.

Ron Marsico, Joe Donohue and Dunstan McNichol contributed to this report.

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