Monday, December 22, 2014

East Hanover Planning Board Attorney, former municipal judge, charged in ethics violation.


Update: See my February 14, 2016 article.

On July 15, 2013, the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) filed a formal ethics complaint against Wayne attorney William J. Rush.  See OAE v. Rush, Docket No. XIV-2012-0273E and 328E, on-line here.  According to his Financial Disclosure Statement, Rush presently serves as the Land Use Planning Board Attorney for the Township of East Hanover (Morris County). The matter is still pending and awaiting disposition.

The ethics complaint against Rush arises out of two real estate transactions for which Rush was the settlement agent.  In one transaction, involving a property in Bergen County, Rush is accused of failing to wire a mortgage payoff that was due on November 1, 2011 until December 20, 2011 and for paying himself $1,699 in fees instead of the $1,185 that was listed on the closing statement.  In the other transaction, Rush is accused of using other clients' funds in 2008 to pay a $54,050.27 disbursement and for participating in an arrangement where a $12,844.22 "concession" was given to the buyer without it being disclosed on the closing statement.  According to the complaint, this allowed the buyer to receive 100% financing without that fact being disclosed to the buyer's lender.  Rush is further accused of taking a $1,200 as a settlement fee instead of the $1,000 fee listed in the settlement agreement.  In his answer to the complaint, Rush admits to the bulk of the allegations but claims that he "acted in good faith" and "did not knowingly or purposely intend to deceive the grievants or the lenders in either real estate transaction."

Prior to being Land Use Planning Board Attorney, Rush served as East Hanover's municipal court judge.  According to the Township Council's January 3, 2012 meeting minutes, Rush was unanimously appointed as municipal court judge that day.  The following year, 2013, Vincent A. Pirone was appoint as judge.  Yet, according to N.J.S.A. 2B:12-4, municipal court judges are appointed for a term of three years, so it is unclear why Rush only served one year of his term.