Sources with knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT early tonight that a man found dead of a gunshot wound to the head on Route 17 in East Rutherford was former prosecutor Jay Fahy, the apparent victim of a suicide.
“I feel like I just lost my brother,” a close associate told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight. “Everybody’s in tears right now….
“Something happened in the last two weeks. He wasn’t himself,” he added. “But none of us can figure out what it is.”
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli confirmed Fahy’s death, which he said was “the result of a single gunshot wound to the head, fired with a handgun.”
Two men walking under the highway railroad trestle next to the Castle Billiards Lounge found Fahy’s body around 5 o’clock tonight, barely 1,000 feet from his Route 17 office and blocks from his Ridge Road home in Rutherford, Molinelli said. The gun was found nearby, he said.
“There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of foul play,” the prosecutor told CLIFFVIEW PILOT after conducting a news conference to announce the discovery. “But, together with the East Rutherford police, we will try to determine what happened.
“There will be no stone unturned.”
The perimeter expanded after the body was found just off southbound Route 17, which remained closed while police investigated. No one could say when the highway’s southbound lanes would reopen.
Both sides initially were closed.
Fahy apparently hadn’t been at his office, less than a three-mile walk from his house, the past week to 10 days. After hearing that there had been a suicide nearby, an employee at the firm began hurriedly calling friends and co-workers late this afternoon.
Then came an incoming call from the prosecutor’s office. They needed Fahy’s wife’s phone number.
Anne Fahy was eventually contacted in Manhattan, Molinelli said.
“Jay Fahy was one of the most level-headed people I have known in my 34 years in law enforcement,” Port Authority Police Sgt. Michael Barry told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight. “When everyone else got nervous, Jay was calm, analytical. He made the complex simple.
“The reason I became a legal studies major was because of Jay Fahy,” Barry added. “He was an icon for many of us. He epitomized everything we loved about the law.
“It had to be something so horrific that he saw no way out.”
A founding and senior partner of Fahy-Choi in Rutherford, John “Jay” Fahy focused on white-collar crime. He also served as special master in technical and financial matters.
The 58-year-old, 6-foot-4-inch Carlstadt native served the public, as well, both as the Bergen County Prosecutor from 1990-1995 and, previously, in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, where he was chief of the political corruption unit. He also was an assistant Hudson County prosecutor in the early 1980s.
Fahy was a frequent guest on various TV news programs, for which he combined his extensive experience with a manner of explaining often-complex matters simply and clearly.
Fahy, who received his BS in accounting and MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and was awarded a J.D. in 1981 from Seton Hall Law Center (for which he served as President of the Alumni Association), also lectured at the Institute for Continuing Legal Education and has taught legal writing at Seton Hall Law Center.
Before establishing Fahy Choi LLC, Fahy was as partner at Cole Schotz Meisel Forman & Leonard, PA; Water McPherson McNeill, PC and Reed Smith LLP.
He also was counsel to, and a former Board member of, the National Police Defense Foundation.
Barry, who is also a member of the foundation, said he will recommend that the organization pursue a program for people in law enforcement “who have nowhere else to go.”
“Maybe contemporary law enforcement needs something like that, with no questions asked, in helping people get the help they need,” he said. “Jay would be proud to know we’d done something like that.”