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Wife of former Palisades Park mob associate says he never admitted rape

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

ONLY ON THE PILOT: The wife of a former mob associate from Palisades Park on trial for rape said a recorded phone conversation between him and the alleged victim isn’t a confession because he doesn’t have the ability to understand the conversation.

Three grueling days of testimony in the trial of Angelo “Ken” Wedra in Hackensack concluded yesterday with testimony from his wife and niece. Earlier this week, the alleged victim testified for two days.

Under questioning from Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor David Calviello yesterday, Wedra’s wife, Marie Mattson, said she wasn’t shocked when the phone conversation in which he’s heard apologizing was played.

“I know it’s not possible, that’s why I wasn’t shocked,” she testified. “He’s always in a rush, he’s not paying that much attention, his cognitive abilities are not that good.  I know he was not hearing what she was saying.”

“ ‘I can’t give you answers, I can’t talk on the phone,’ ” Calviello said.  “Did you hear him say that?”

“Yes,” Mattson replied.  “He’s not paying attention …. He’s in a rush to get to the card game. In my mind, there was no evidence.”

She and Wedra’s niece testified to strained relationships Wedra was having that culminated in his arrest in  his arrest in August, 2009. Mattson also described financial accounts that she said she hid from her husband because he was a gambler who lost a lot of money.

Family finances were tangled, with allegations of loans made, not made, repaid and not repaid — including money that Wedra never repaid the alleged victim, Mattson testified.

She claimed that one of her sons and the alleged victim were angry that she and her husband refused to loan them money, so they hatched a plot to benefit themselves.

“Ken [would then] be out of the way and they could have control over me and any money I might have … and they would get rent money.”

Asked if she ever told police about this, Mattson replied that she was never questioned.

Mattson also made a point to tell jurors that her son is a convicted criminal.  But she never told them that her husband has served time for two felonies:  murder and rape, both facts that are inadmissible because they might prejudice jurors.

“You really want the jury to know that, don’t you, Marie?” Calviello said of Mattson’s statement about her son.  “I didn’t ask you that, did I?”

“Because it’s the truth,” she said.

Wedra’s niece later testified yesterday that the alleged victim had a “habit” of recording phone conversations. Questioned further by Calviello, she admitted having direct knowledge of only two in-laws being taped and only heard one of those recordings.

Earlier in the week, Whalen and another in-law testified without the jury present to incidents that they said spoke to the alleged victim’s “dishonesty.”

But Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila Silebi said she wouldn’t allow the testimony because neither woman had a close relationship with the victim, both had taken sides with Wedra and his wife, and their statements spoke of “meanness and hatred, not dishonesty.”

Calviello rested his case yesterday afternoon. Defense attorney Dennis Calo was to conclude his today.

STORY / PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

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