Monday, July 13, 2015

Local Finance Board adjudicates some ethics cases.

Although the Local Finance Board (LFB) processes citizen complaints alleging violations of the Local Government Ethics Law, it does not place its decisions on-line.  And, the LFB doesn't even notify the public when a decision is reached that disposes of an ethics case.  Since ethics complaints sometimes take years to go through the LFB's process, the public has no ready way to find out which cases have recently closed and thus become publicly disclosable.  I obtain this information the best I can by periodically comparing snapshots of the LFB's case rosters, which I obtain through OPRA requests, to see which cases have closed during the interval between the creation dates of both rosters.  I then submit additional OPRA requests for the case files on those recently closed cases to see who was involved and whether the accused public official was found to be in violation.

This, of course, is a very tedious process, but, given the LFB's apparent reluctance to be more transparent, it's the only way of getting this information out the public.

Following is a list of cases.  The actual documents are within a 86-page PDF that is on-line here.  The page numbers below refer to the case's starting page within the PDF.

CASES IN WHICH VIOLATIONS WERE FOUND AND  FINES WERE IMPOSED

Public Agency: Borough of Bloomsbury
County: Hunterdon
Name(s) of charged official(s): Mark Peck, Carol Flink, Vicky Papics, Marc Scheffel, Steven Shelton, Martha Tersigni and Eric Wegner.
Brief synopsis:  Mayor and council members accused of ethical improprieties regarding appointment of Emergency Management Coordinator.
Outcome: Peck, Flink and Papics were found to have violated the ethics law and fined $100 each.  The remaining respondents were found to have not violated the ethics law.
Page Number: 1

Public Agency: Township of Mansfield
County: Burlington
Name(s) of charged official(s): Sean Gable
Brief synopsis: Accused of voting for his wife and members of the  fire company where he serves as Deputy Chief to Township positions.
Outcome: Found to have violated ethics law and fined $100.
Page Number: 20

Public Agency: Borough of Haddon Heights
County: Camden
Name(s) of charged official(s): Edward Forte
Brief synopsis:  Accused of leasing Borough property on behalf of a private organization while simultaneously serving on Borough Council.
Outcome: Found to have violated ethics law and fined $100.  After appeal, LFB agreed to closed the complaint after $100 was paid.
Page Number: 26

Public Agency:  Borough of Middlesex
County: Middlesex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Dina Fornataro-Healy
Brief synopsis: Used Borough e-mail system to promote employer's private business.
Outcome: Found to have violated ethics law and fined $100, but fine was waived.
Page Number: 48

Public Agency: City of Jersey City
County: Hudson
Name(s) of charged official(s): Helen Davis
Brief synopsis:  Accused of failing to list rental properties on her Financial Disclosure Statement when she was on the Rent Leveling Board.  Jersey City's local ethics board dismissed, but Local Finance Board reversed.
Outcome: Found to have violated ethics law and fined $500.
Page Number: 51

Public Agency: Borough of North Plainfield
County: Somerset
Name(s) of charged official(s): Frank Righetti
Brief synopsis: Accused of serving simultaneously as paid crossing guard and member of Borough Council.
Outcome: Found to have violated ethics law and fined $100, but fine was waived.
Page Number: 56

Public Agency: Borough of Ocean Gate
County: Ocean
Name(s) of charged official(s): Paul J. Kennedy
Brief synopsis: Accused of serving in various paid Borough positions while serving as Mayor.
Outcome: Found to have violated ethics law and fined $700.
Page Number: 79

DISMISSAL AND FINDING OF NO UNETHICAL CONDUCT.

Public Agency: Borough of Wallington
County: Bergen
Name(s) of charged official(s): Darius Pawluczuk
Brief synopsis: Accused of leaving blank certain areas of Financial Disclosure Statement.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 15

Public Agency: Gloucester County
County: Gloucester
Name(s) of charged official(s): Heather Simmons
Brief synopsis: Accused of receiving contract as Glassboro's Public Information Consultant while serving as Gloucester County Freeholder.  Also accused of violating bidding laws.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 18

Public Agency:  Borough of Haddon Heights
County: Camden
Name(s) of charged official(s): Edward Forte
Brief synopsis: Accused of voting to appoint his personal lawyer, Albert Olizi, as Borough Solicitor.
Outcome: Dismissed.
Page Number: 24

Public Agency: Borough of Haddon Heights
County: Camden
Name(s) of charged official(s): Albert J. Olizi, Jr.
Brief synopsis: Accused of being Mayor's attorney and involved with Sons of Italy chapter while serving as Borough Solicitor.
Outcome: Dismissed.
Page Number: 36

Public Agency: Borough of Haddon Heights
County: Camden
Name(s) of charged official(s):  Richard DiRenzo
Brief synopsis: Accused of voting for Albert J. Olizi, Jr., his personal attorney, for Borough Solicitor.
Outcome: Dismissed.
Page Number:  40

Public Agency: Township of Jackson
County: Ocean
Name(s) of charged official(s): Patricia Wood
Brief synopsis:  Accused of hiring a band for a community celebration while her son was a band member.
Outcome: Dismissed.
Page Number: 42

Public Agency: Township of Barnegat
County: Ocean
Name(s) of charged official(s): Susan McCabe
Brief synopsis: Accused of creating a paid Township position and then filling it with her former campaign treasurer.
Outcome: Withdrawn.
Page Number: 44

Public Agency:  Borough of Middlesex
County: Middlesex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Ronald Dobies
Brief synopsis: Failure to appoint members of local ethics board.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 46

Public Agency: Township of Vernon
County: Sussex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Edward Dunn
Brief synopsis:  Accused of campaigning of municipal property.
Outcome: Dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Page Number: 59

Public Agency: Township of Vernon
County: Sussex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Victor Marotta
Brief synopsis: Accused of campaigning on municipal website-based television.
Outcome: Dismissed, but website needs to have disclaimer posted.
Page Number: 61

Public Agency: Township of Vernon
County: Sussex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Patrick Rizzuto
Brief synopsis: Accused of campaigning on municipal website-based television.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 63

Public Agency: Township of Vernon
County: Sussex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Richard Wetzel
Brief synopsis: Accused of campaigning on municipal website-based television.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 65

Public Agency: Township of Sparta
County: Sussex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Ann Whilesmith
Brief synopsis: Accused of participating in employment related discussions regarding Township Manager David Troast when she had a "personal involvement" with him.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 67

Public Agency: Township of Sparta
County: Sussex
Name(s) of charged official(s): Christine Quinn
Brief synopsis: Accused of participating in employment related discussions regarding Township Manager David Troast when she had a "personal involvement" with him.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 69

Public Agency: Township of Jackson
County: Ocean
Name(s) of charged official(s): Robert Nixon
Brief synopsis: Accused of supporting appointing his former campaign manager to Municipal Utilities Authority.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 75

Public Agency: Township of Jackson
County: Ocean
Name(s) of charged official(s): Barry Calogero
Brief synopsis: Accused of supporting appointing his former campaign manager to Municipal Utilities Authority.
Outcome: Dismissed as not having reasonable factual basis.
Page Number: 77

Public Agency: Lakewood Fire District No. 1
County: Ocean
Name(s) of charged official(s): Larry Loigman
Brief synopsis: Accused of failing to list property on Financial Disclosure Statement.
Outcome: Dismissed.
Page Number: 83

Public Agency: Township of Lopatcong
County: Warren
Name(s) of charged official(s): Margaret Beth Dilts
Brief synopsis: Accused, in her capacity as clerk, of having put false statement in meeting minutes.
Outcome: Dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Page Number: 85

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