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  • Robert Farago

The Rise and Fall of Sal Tortorella

Absolute corruption corrupts absolutely

Behold: Sal Tortorella! Real name: Gary Wilcox. Occupation: New Jersey Superior Court Judge. Gary-as-Sal uploaded some 40 videos on TikTok, lip-syncing to songs you’ll never hear on Yacht Rock radio.

The videos are in the black hole, now. With a few exceptions, we don’t know which rap songs and lyrics the Harvard Law School grad and former Assistant U.S. Attorney felt worthy of his artistic vision.

Does it matter? The Judge’s lawyer Gary Willie – an excellent name for a UK rapper – doesn’t think so.

“He did not endorse any of the artists, their lifestyle, or their views… Country Music has its share of outlaws. Rock has its share of racy lyrics, and Pop does too,” Wille told, citing Let’s Get Physical by Olivia Newton-John and Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band.

Comparing any rap artist who ever lived to the Olivia Newton-John or the Starland Vocal Band is like comparing a junkyard dog to a pampered poodle. A drag racer to a Toyota Corolla. A .50-caliber Barrett .50 to a .22-caliber Henry. Studio 54 to a golf club lounge. In fact…

Only a bunch of fuddy-duddy Boomer-born judges who’d never even heard Rapper's Delight by The Sugar Hill Gang would buy the comparison. Like… the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct?

That’s Judge Wilcox’s hope, now that a formal complaint was filed against him with that august body, in a state where corruption is as rare as the vaquita dolphin and the word “disrepute” carries the same weight as a Nepalese Sherpa.

According to the complaint, one of the videos features Gary-as-Sal-as-Santa lip-synching to Busta Rhymes’ Touch It, mouthing the lyrics “While she tryin’ to touch, see, I was peepin’ it out. She turned around and was tryin’ to put my dick in her mouth. I let her.”

The complaint also alleges that Gary-as-Sal walked through a courthouse lip-synching to Get Down by Nas wearing a Beavis and Butt-Head T-shirt.

“The song contains explicit lyrics concerning a criminal case and a courtroom shooting as well as derogatory and discriminatory terms, drug and gang references, and the killing of a doctor in a hospital who treated another gang member,” the complaint said.

Wilcox’s brief asserts that his client created the videos while the court was shut down due to “a period of sustained downtime and isolation” during the Covid pandemic. And “They were not made while performing judicial duties.”

COVID-19 shut down the New Jersey courts from March 18, 2020 to June 22, 2020. Gary-as-Sal posted his TikTokery between April 11, 2021, and March 4, 2023.

Never mind. Willie’s lawyer’s asking the Ethics Boyz to believe the Judge wasn’t motivated by a desire for recognition: views, shares, likes and comments. He had no idea he’d become something of a sensation.

“He did not pay attention to any ‘public’ designation. He did not know the significance of what ‘public” meant in TikTok’s posting context,” Wille said.  (Wilcox) “believed the setting allowed viewing beyond himself to include family, friends, and people who sought to connect with him who he permitted”…

I reckon anyone that makes 40 TikTok videos over nearly two years is at least partially motivated by the desire for public approval.

Judge Wilcox’s lawyer argues that his “fun loving” client deserves nothing more than a simple reprimand for his social media persona.

Meanwhile, there are only two bland images from any of of Sal’s videos anywhere on the ‘net. And none of the videos are anywhere.

What does that tell you?

It tells me the fix is in.

If you or I wanted to black hole career-killing Internet material, it would be like trying to remove a week-old red wine stain from white linen trousers. Only a lot less likely.

Gov. Chris Christie appointed Judge Wilcox to the bench. If Gary-as-Gary pissed off the wrong people, his two-year rap career will be the excuse they need to give him the old heave-ho.

Then again, DIE says they can’t touch this. Do that one Sal! Just one more. Please?

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