Friday, April 25, 2014

Cumberland Elections Board refers two Commercial Township voting matters to Prosecutor


At its March 13, 2014 meeting, the Cumberland County Board of Elections reported on its investigation of four alleged fraudulent ballot cast in the November 5, 2013 Commercial Township election.  The minutes of that meeting, on-line here, confirm that the Board's investigation was prompted by an Open Public Records Act request filed by John Paff, who serves as Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project.

According to the minutes, Paff's inquiry concerns ballots cast by four voters who may have not been residents of Commercial Township when the ballots were cast.  Paff had been contacted by residents of Commercial Township were were concerned that fraudulent ballots may have been cast in the election for Township's mayor, where Judson Moore edged out LaRae Smith by a vote of 427 to 413.

The voters investigated by the Board, along with their addresses as shown in Board of Election records, were:
  1. Charles D. DelRossi, 1789 North Ave, Port Norris.
  2. Leslie R. Hanby, 1935 Strawberry Ave, Port Norris.
  3. Charles A. Moore, 2317 Market St, Port Norris.
  4. Cheryl A. Robbins, 6216 Brown St, Port Norris.
DelRossi, Hanby and Moore had cast their ballots at the polls and Robbins had submitted a mail-in ballot.

According to the meeting minutes, the Board sent certified letters to the Commercial Township addresses for each of the four voters.  None of those letters were returned as being undeliverable.  Of the four voters, Robbins contacted the Board and explained that she had two residences, but that her principal one was in Port Norris while DelRossi furnished a copy of his driver license showing his Port Norris address.  The Board, however, referred Hanby's and Moore's cases to the Cumberland County Prosecutor because "Hanby's driver license shows that he moved out of Commercial in June 2012" and Moore didn't respond to the certified letter although he did receive it.

Readers are reminded that the Board's referral of Moore's and Hanby's matters to the Prosecutor does not mean that either submitted a fraudulent ballot.  All that is known at this point is that the Board found that Hanby's driver license did not reflect a Commercial Township address and that Moore did not respond to the Board's letter.

Anyone with in information regarding whether or not any of the four voters did or did not reside in Port Norris on November 5, 2013 is invited to contact John Paff at paff@pobox.com or P.O. Box 5424, Somerset, NJ 08875. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My visit to the Cumberland County Board of Elections

April 23, 2014

Theodore Baker, Esq.
Cumberland County Counsel
790 E. Commerce Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302

(via e-mail only to Theodoreba@co.cumberland.nj.us)

Dear Mr. Baker:

I am contacting you at the suggestion of Lizbeth M. Hernandez, Administrator of the Cumberland County Board of Elections, with whom I visited today.  I am hoping that you are willing and able to give me some information about a complaint I had filed with the Board of Elections in January of this year.

By way of background, I received information late last year that fraudulent ballots were cast in the November 5, 2013 Commercial Township Committee election between Judson Moore and LaRae Smith.  My informants believed that but for the alleged fraudulent ballots being cast, Moore, who officially won the election by a vote of 427 to 413, would have lost the election by a slim margin to Smith.

My informants gave me the names of several voters who they suspected of casting fraudulent ballots and I selected one to investigate.  My investigation confirmed, by way of documented proof, that this person had cast a mail-in ballot in the November 5, 2013 election and had, on June 24, 2013, applied for the mail-in ballot using an address in Port Norris (Commercial Township).  I then spoke with a neighbor who lived within 500 feet of the Port Norris address where the subject of my investigation claimed to reside on June 24, 2013.  The neighbor provided me with an affidavit stating the voter did live at the Port Norris address until 2010 or 2011 but then moved to a different municipality to reside with a new spouse.

On January 11, 2014, I sent the neighbor's affidavit, along with copies of the voter's mail-in ballot application, voter registration application and other documents to the State Police Barracks in Port Norris along with a cover letter asking for the matter to be investigated.  I took this action since it appeared to me that the voter may have violated N.J.S.A. 19:63-28, which makes it a crime of the third degree to fraudulently submit a mail-in ballot.  On January 22, 2014, I forwarded a copy of my State Police complaint, with all exhibits, to Ms. Hernandez and asked the Board of Elections to conduct its own investigation into the matter. On January 28, 2014, Ms. Hernandez notified me in writing that "the Cumberland County Board of Elections is investigating this matter."

Having heard nothing further from either the State Police or Ms. Hernandez, I visited Hernandez's office on Thursday, April 17, 2014 to follow up on my January 22, 2014 correspondence.  Ms. Hernandez was not in the office but her staff took my phone number and said that they would have Ms. Hernandez call me back early this week.  After not having received a return phone call, I visited Ms. Hernandez's office today at about 2:10 p.m.

The conversation which took place between me and Ms. Hernandez was not what I had expected.  I had entered into the conversation believing--apparently mistakenly--that as the person who initially brought the possible fraudulent ballot to the Board's attention, I would be entitled to receive information regarding the disposition of the investigation.  While I am obviously paraphrasing, the conversation between me and Ms. Hernandez went something like this:
LH: I can only tell you certain things.  I can tell you that a decision was made by the Board regarding the matter raised in your letter.

JP: Was that decision made in a Board executive session?

LH: No, it was made in public session.

JP: Can you tell me what was decided?

LH: No, you might be able to get that information from Ted Baker.

JP: You can't tell me that which occurred during a public meeting?  Can you show me the minutes of that meeting?

LH: No, if you want the minutes you will have to complete an Open Public Records Act request form.

JP: Can you tell me if the investigation is closed?

LH: I cannot tell you that. I can only tell you that a decision was made regarding your case.

JP: Was there ever an intention on the Board's part to notify me of the fact that a decision was made?

LH: The Board is under no obligation to advise you of anything.
At that point, told Ms. Hernandez that I did not take her evasiveness personally, and that I was well accustomed to dealing with "ornery and onerous" government agencies.  I asked Ms. Hernandez for an OPRA request form, which she gave me, and I completed it and handed it in to her.  In it, I asked for meeting minutes, e-mails, correspondence and other documents that might help me understand if and how this matter was handled.

I am writing to you because Ms. Hernandez told me that you might have some information about this matter that you might be willing to share with me.  Given the way that Ms. Hernandez treated me, I am certainly not expecting much, if any, information from you.  However, I would be remiss if I didn't at least try to reach out to you.

So, if there is anything that you can share with me, I would certainly appreciate it.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Voice: 732-873-1251
Fax: 908-325-0129
e-mail: paff@pobox.com

cc. Lizbeth Hernandez, via e-mail to lizbethhe@co.cumberland.nj.us

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Civil suit accuses Sayreville teacher of making racist comments

On March 11, 2014, an eighteen year old former student at Sayreville War Memorial High School (Middlesex County) sued his auto mechanics teacher of racially discriminating against him. 

According to the lawsuit, which is on-line here, Isaiah Roberts claimed that teacher Richard Bates called him a "gang banger" who doesn't "need a gun range, you shoot at Winding Woods" and "steal cars in Newark."  Bates also allegedly told Roberts that "I hate your f*cking guts" and that he would "be dead before you're 21."

Roberts claimed that Bates later apologized and admitted that he had been called a racist and a skinhead in the past.  He also claimed that Vice Principal Richard Gluchowski told him that Bates had admitted making some of the comments.

Roberts said that he was told to "forget about the situation" and that no disciplinary action has been taken against Bates.

Interesting Suppression Hearing upcoming in Atlantic County

​This is my letter sent to a drug inmate today who is claiming that his suppression motion was improperly denied because the judge relied upon the credibility of a police officer who has since been charged with official misconduct.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
April 12, 2014

Terrance D. Harris
No. #735792-155146c
Bayside State Prison
4293 Rt 47, P.O. Box F-1
Leesburg, NJ  08327

Dear Mr. Harris:

I write in my capacity of Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Police Accountability Project.  Our mission is to hold police officers accountable for their misdeeds.  I have posted the contents of this letter, along with documentary exhibits, to various blogs, e-mail lists and social media.

I write to ask that you please share with me the results of the remand hearing after that matter has been decided by the Atlantic County Superior Court.

For the benefit of readers who are not familiar with your matter, I will briefly summarize it below.
From reading the Appellate Division's March 21, 2014 decision in your criminal case, I see that you are serving an eight-year sentence with a four-year period of parole ineligibility for "second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute."   According to your certification and brief filed with the Appellate Division (which I received by way of an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, the substance at issue was cocaine which was found in your home while the police were executing a search warrant.

You made a motion to suppress the search on the grounds that the search warrant was issued after, rather than before, the search was conducted.  The trial judge in Atlantic County denied your motion based in part on the credibility of Egg Harbor City Police Detective Steven W. Hadley who had testified at your suppression hearing.

While the appeal of the denial of your suppression motion was pending, Lynda Cohen wrote "Detective allegedly used job to get sex" in the September 26, 2013 Press of Atlantic City.  That article reported that Detective Hadley was charged with four counts of official misconduct for allegedly using his official position as a police officer to have sex with four different women over a three year period. 

Hadley's arrest, you argued in your brief, ought to be considered by the Appellate Division as "new evidence" since it was unknown at the time of your suppression hearing.  You further argued that Hadley's arrest is relevant to your case given that the trial judge denied your suppression motion at least partly because of Hadley's perceived credibility.

The Appellate Division refused to supplement the record to include Hadley's arrest, but remanded the matter to the trial court, which will ultimately decide whether or not Hadley's arrest will be admitted into evidence and whether the prior decision to deny your suppression motion should stand.
I'd like to follow this matter and blog the result. Would you please inform me of the results of your case and, if possible, the date, hour and location of the hearing at which this matter will be decided?  If you have someone who is not incarcerated who can communicate on your behalf, please ask him or her to correspond with me at the e-mail address in the letterhead.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Police Accountability Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Voice: 732-873-1251
Fax: 908-325-0129
e-mail: paff@pobox.com

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whistleblower suit filed by North Brunswick former DPW Supervisor

On March 6, 2014, Mark LaMonica, who formerly served as North Brunswick Township's (Middlesex County) Supervisor of the Department of Public Works, sued Mayor Francis Womack, Business Administrator Robert Lombard and DPW Director Glenn Sandor for transferring him to the Building and Grounds Maintenance Department in retaliation for "his constant complaints about illegal activity at the Township."

In the suit, which is on-line here, LaMonica claimed that DPW worker Donald Salzman, Jr., who he claims to be "the son of a good friend of Womack" had applied Armor All "all over [LaMonica's] Township truck, including the brake and gas pedals."  Since this caused "an extremely dangerous condition," LaMonica "wrote up" Salzman and insisted on him being suspended.  According to the complaint Sandor said that Salzman would only receive a warning.

LaMonica's suit also claimed that he complained about employees selling Township scrap metal and then keeping the cash, stealing Township tires, working on their own vehicles during company time and being paid for time when they were not working.  He claims that Sandor and other officials gave him "the impression that his complaints were not appreciated."

After the Armor All incident, LaMonica claims that he was transferred to Building and Grounds where he was "exiled to a basement office," ostracized and alienated and deprived of overtime.

The allegations in the complaint have not yet been proven.  In 2011, LaMonica and the North Brunswick DPW were mentioned in another lawsuit, which is on-line here.