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Former Bergen Prosecutor John Fahy Dead in Apparent Suicide

Prominent lawyer, ex-prosecutor found dead near Route 17

RUTHERFORD -- A Rutherford lawyer who served as Bergen County’s top prosecutor and led a federal anti-political corruption squad apparently shot and killed himself under a bridge over Route 17 Wednesday, according to published reports.

Two children found the body of John “Jay” Fahy around 5 p.m. in East Rutherford, authorities said. A handgun was found nearby and Fahy reportedly died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

“Jay was someone all of us knew, so it comes as a surprise and a shock to all of us here,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at a briefing near the scene, NorthJersey.com reported. “He was known as a good lawyer and someone who was well liked in the community.”

It was not immediately clear if Fahy, 58, left a suicide note or what led to his death.

“Even though there is no evidence of foul play, one has to wonder why a person like Mr. Fahy would bring himself to this,” Molinelli said, according to the news site.

Fahy’s car was found at his Rutherford home and authorities believe he walked to the underpass, near Castle Billiards, NJ.com reported. There was no evidence to suggest foul play. 

Former Gov. Jim Florio named Fahy as county prosecutor in 1990, a post he held for five years before entering private practice and serving as borough attorney in Carlstadt.

“He was a fine person, an excellent lawyer, and an excellent human being,” Florio told NorthJersey.com, calling Fahy the best appointment he made as governor.

Fahy oversaw several high-profile cases during his term as prosecutor, including a triple homicide in 1993 in Teaneck. He led an effort to track sex offenders who were released in Bergen County communities and issued an extensive report detailing safety flaws at the county jail. 

At his law firm, Fahy-Choi, Fahy served as founding and senior partner. He focused on white-collar crime and complex litigation, and served as a special master in technical and financial matters, according his biography on the firm’s website.

Carlstadt Mayor William Roseman told the South Bergenite Fahy recently missed council meetings, saying he was sick and undergoing tests. 

"He was way too young...a great guy, one of the guys who made it,” the mayor said, according to the report.

As a federal prosecutor, Fahy managed a team of lawyers and was chief of the political corruption unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, his biography said.

He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s of business administration before earning a Juris Doctorate from the Seton Hall Law Center in 1981.

Fahy was a frequent contributor to national news programs, offering his legal insights on the Tyler Clementi case and the Florida trial of George Zimmerman.


Tee Smyth July 18, 2013 at 04:44 PM
I don't need to know the why's and the how's. Whatever it was, it was deeply troubling and personal. Condolences to his family.
Diane Schwarz July 19, 2013 at 08:53 AM
So sorry for those he's left behind! He sounds like he was a really good guy. Always especially sad to lose one of those!
Marge Teilhaber July 19, 2013 at 10:17 PM
I worked with him when he as an assistant US attorney. Smart and nice man. Really sorry for whatever crap he was going through that he resorted to this. Very sad.
John Santaella July 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM
We don't know the why in this case but I believe suicide is usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Mrs. Smith July 20, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Very sad. Emotional pain can be crippling. My condolences to his family.

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