Joseph S. Portash was nearly 6’ 5”, a mop of graying hair making him appear stately. He was 56 when I met him late one February afternoon in 1988, and he would be dead in two years, his name synonymous with scandal.
So writes Thomas Peele, who covered Manchester Township for The Ocean County Observer in 1988-89. Appearing Thursday is Peele's lengthy analysis on what helped bring down Manchester's own "teflon Don," the man who escaped an extortion conviction to dominate Manchester Township politics for more than a decade.
Eventually, Portash and his puppet government would lead the retirement-home-mecca to financial ruin before Portash died in 1990.
Peele is now an award-winning investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group newspapers in Northern California and a lecturer at the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. His first book, Killing the Messenger, A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash and The Assassination of A Journalist, was published last year by Crown. Reach him at Thomaspeele@thomaspeele.com.