Peter Moraites (June 8, 1922 – January 7, 2014; pronounced mo-RAY-tees) was an American Republican Party politician who served as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly in 1969.
Moraites was born June 8, 1922, in North Carolina. He was a graduate of St. John's College and St. John's University School of Law. He served as a Secretary to Congressman Jacob K. Javits (R-New York); after Javits was elected Attorney General of New York in 1954, Moraites became his Special Assistant. He later served as an assistant to Congressman Frank C. Osmers, Jr. (R-New Jersey). In the 1950s, before moving to New Jersey, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the New York State Senate.
New Jersey General Assembly
Moraites was elected Assemblyman in 1961, He was re-elected in 1963.
Candidate for State Senator
After the U.S. Supreme Court, in Reynolds v. Sims (more commonly known as One Man, One Vote), required redistricting by state legislatures for congressional districts to keep represented populations equal, as well as requiring both houses of state legislatures to have districts drawn that contained roughly equal populations, and to perform redistricting when needed. Because of its population, Bergen County gained a three Senate seats. Moriates chose to run for the State Senate.
A deep split among Bergen County Republicans intensified in 1963 when incumbent Senate, Pierce H. Deamer, Jr. and former State Senator Walter H. Jones faced off in an election for Bergen County Republican Chairman. Jones won, and by 1965, Deamer found himself dumped from the Bergen County Republican Organization line. Jones backed Moraites for Senate and put him on a ticket with Assembly Speaker Marion West Higgins, and former Assemblymen Nelson G. Gross and Arthur Vervaet. Deamer ran on an insurgent ticket with Assemblymen Richard Vander Plaat and Harry Randall, Jr., and former Assemblyman Carmine Savino. Jones' slate won decisively, with Moraites finishing second.
|Marion West Higgins||Incumbent Assembly Speaker||33769|
|Peter Moraites||Incumbent Assemblyman||32,214|
|Nelson G. Gross||Former Assemblyman||31,220|
|Arthur Vervaet||Former Assemblyman||30,759|
|Pierce H. Deamer, Jr.||Incumbent State Senator||20,240|
|Richard Vander Plaat||Incumbent Assemblyman||20,211|
|Harry Randall, Jr.||Incumbent Assemblyman||17,971|
|John J. Breen||Attorney||3,195|
With popular Democratic Governor Richard J. Hughes running for re-election, Democrats Ned Parsekian, Matthew Feldman, Jeremiah F. O'Connor, and Alfred Kiefer won the four Bergen County State Senate seats. Moraites was the top vote-getter among the Republicans, finishing 4,752 votes behind Kiefer.
Return to the New Jersey General Assembly
He ran again for Assemblyman in 1967 and won. He was re-elected to a fourth term in the State Assembly in 1969.
Candidate for Congress
In 1968, Moraites was the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives against three-term Democrat Henry Helstoski, but narrowly lost by 2,332 votes, 51%-49%.
In 1970, Moraites was indicted on bank fraud charges. He was later convicted, and served nine months of a 16-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.
While he was in prison, he and another prominent Bergen County political figure associated with the bank, Walter H. Jones, were indicted on charges of trying to conceal unsecured loans made by the bank to shipping companies three years earlier. A judge acquitted them in February 1974 after a non-jury trial.Moraites and Jones were indicted on bank fraud charges in 1971; he was acquitted of those charges three years later.
After prison, Moraites regained his law license and practiced in New York City until retiring in 2002. He lived in Alpine until moving to Edgewater in 2006, before moving to Tappan, New York. His wife, Helen, died in October, 2013.