Thursday, December 6, 2018

Former Bound Brook Council member cited for ethics violation.

After a more than four-year investigation, a former member of the Bound Brook Borough (Somerset County) Council was tentatively fined $100 by the New Jersey Local Finance Board (LFB) for voting in favor of a resolution which designated a redeveloper for a Main Street property while her in-laws owned that property and her husband, who currently sits as a Borough Council member, had an interest in a business located on that property.

In its November 27, 2018 Notice of Violation, the LFB--the chief enforcer of the Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL)--found that on July 22, 2014 then-Councilwoman Beverly Pranzatelli voted to designate Meridia, LLC as Redeveloper for thirteen lots of property.  Among those lots was Block 8, Lot 9.03 which covers 1 East Main Street in the Borough.  According to tax records, Lot 9.03 was owned by Anthony and Elizabeth Pranzatelli of Bridgewater who are, according the Notice of Violation, Beverly's husband Anthony's parents.  The building at 1 East Main Street also housed Pranzatelli's Audio Outlet LLC.  According to Beverly's Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS), her husband Anthony has an interest in that business.

The LFB determined that Pranzatelli's July 22, 2014 vote violated the LGEL because it "constituted an action in her official capacity in a matter where she had a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair her objectivity or independence of judgment." 

The LFB also informed Pranzatelli of her right to contest the fine by requesting an administrative hearing.  The LFB's final decision will not be issued until after Pranzatelli, if she chooses to contest the fine, has had her case heard by an Administrative Law Judge.

According to her 2018 FDS, Beverly Pranzatelli presently serves on the Borough's Recreation Commission and Library Advisory Board.  Her 2018 FDS also shows that she and her husband Anthony jointly owns real estate at 307 W Main Street and 108 E Maple Street.  Her statement also shows that Anthony has a current business interest in both Pranzatelli's Audio Outlet LLC as well as a business called Pranzatelli Properties.  Curiously, Anthony's 2018 FDS does not disclose an interest in either parcel of real estate or a business interest in Pranzatelli Properties.

By law, local government officials can be fined between $100 and $500 for each LGEL violations.  The ethics complaint that resulted in the LFB's determination was filed on July 25, 2014 by John Paff and the New Jersey Libertarian Party.