Part One of a Series
Court documents recently obtained by Parsippany Focus and filed at Morris County Superior Court by retired Parsippany Police Captain James Carifi shed more light into how Township Attorney John Inglesino and Mayor James Barberio were driven to carry out a vitriolic retaliation against Carifi to avenge his brother’s Republican 2013 Primary run for Mayor against Barberio. The two skirted state, local, Attorney General guidelines and policy and procedures to exact revenge and Barberio “threatened against Carifi by creating a hostile work environment”, according to the court documents.
The lawsuit maintains Barberio’s vendetta started in November 2012, when Barberio reportedly met with Paul Carifi, Jr. at a local restaurant and inquired if Paul Carifi Jr.was going to run for the Republican nomination for Mayor in 2013. At that meeting, Paul Carifi Jr. alleges that Barberio tried to persuade him to run for Morris County Sheriff, but things quickly got ugly when Mayor Barberio stated if Paul pursues a mayoral bid, “It would not be good for your brother.”
James Carifi’s complaint contends Barberio, in tandem with Inglesino, regularly abused their powers to protect Barberio’s political interests. The two allegedly accomplished this by creating a stressful workplace for Captain James Carifi at the Police Department which ultimately forced him into retirement decades before intended.
Inglesino hires Aurora Security Group
A few days after Paul Carifi, Jr. announced his intention to run for Mayor against Barberio, the lawsuit states that the Township Attorney hired Aurora Security Group, which then seized and forensically imaged James Carifi’s Police Department computer. Also, Inglesino ursurped the Township that hired him and independently contracted Aurora Services without consulting with the Township Council, the Police Department or the Morris County Prosecutor’s office, the complaint maintains.
Inglesino’s Professional Services Agreement with the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills specifically states – according to the lawsuit, and verified by Parsippany Focus, the Township attorney must consult with the Township before entering into Professional Services Contracts “in all cases.” Aurora was hired without council approval.
According to the lawsuit, retaining Aurora Security Group not only violates Inglesino’s contract with the Township, the complaint also alleges that the hiring of Aurora violates a state charter law known as “The Faulkner Act” under which the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills operates under. The Faulkner Act provides a Mayor-Council form of government in which service contracts, such as the one Inglesino, Wyciskala & Taylor entered into with Aurora Security Group, are “subject to Council approval,” N.J.S.A. 40:69A-40j. According to statute, when a municipality enters into a “contract,” it is “subject to council approval.” Through the OPRA, Parsippany Focus obtained documents indicating that no contract exists between Aurora Security Group and the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills and all invoices were issued to Inglesino, Wyciskala & Taylor. Aurora was hired by Inglesino, Wyciskala & Taylor, not the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills. (Editors Note: Parsippany Focus submitted an OPRA request for Council minutes and resolutions approving the Aurora contract and the response from Township Clerk was : “A search of the records shows that no such documents exist.” Click here for Township Clerk’s response)
$200 per hour. Not billed until days after Primary
Inglesino negotiated Aurora Security Group’s contract at a rate of $200.00 per hour.
Aurora was hired in Febuary 2013 but only two months of bills were able to be obtained by Parsippany Focus via an OPRA request. The bill for two months work is approximately $50,000. (see Aurora Invoice 1 and Aurora Invoice 2). According to documents provided under OPRA, payment for work completed by Aurora in February and March 2013 wasn’t due until June 7, 2013, three days after the Parsippany primary election and over four months after providing their services.
On October 10, 2013, as published on nj.com, Inglesino stated “If James Carifi were to obtain the invoices, it would jeopardize the town’s interests.”
The lawsuit further alleges Inglesino’s relentless agenda to protect Mayor Barberio’s political interest by playing detective and hiring Aurora Security Group violated the New Jersey Attorney Guidelines, Police Department Internal Affairs guidelines, as well as the New Jersey Private Detective Act, N.J.S.A. 45:19-9(a) (2,3,6 & 8). State law requires all Private Investigative firms must possess a license from the Superintendent of New Jersey State Police. But, according to the lawsuit, Aurora Security Group and its employees are not licensed by the State and therefore are prohibited from performing investigative services for which Inglesino hired them and which the Township of Parsippany eventually paid for. (See Inglesino’s bill to Parsippany-Troy Hills).
NJ Attorney General Guidelines Violated
Furthermore, the lawsuit asserts Inglesino, while lacking the basic authority as Township Attorney to hire Aurora in the first place, failed to follow proper law enforcement policy and procedures by not bringing the misconduct accusations immediately to the local, county, state or federal law enforcement officials. Under the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines, Internal Affairs, according to the lawsuit, all complaints of police misconduct must be forwarded investigated by the Police Department’s Internal Affairs section or forwarded to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. Inglesino did neither and now Parsippany Taxpayers have paid upwards of $200,000.00 in investigative costs to outside firms.
When Aurora Security Group was initially hired in February 2013, the firm’s primary mission, as directed by Inglesino, was to prove Captain Carifi used his police assigned computer for campaign and election work. The complaint alleges Aurora Security Group found no evidence to confirm Captain Carifi used his work computer for election work. The firm never disclosed those findings, according to the lawsuit.
Despite the constant harassment, threats and abuse of power, Captain Carifi reportedly endured at the hands of Inglesino and Barberio, on February 21, 2013, Inglesino offered Captain Carifi a job promotion — similar to incidents former Assemblyman Rich Merkt and Dr. Louis Valori say they experienced with Inglesino on previous occasions.
The job offer to James Carifi was promised during a court-ordered mediation through a mediator. Inglesino offered Carifi the Deputy Police Chief’s position in 2013 according to court documents, beginning in June or July 2013, after the primary race in Parsippany, only if Carifi would agree to drop his initial lawsuit and persuade his brother Paul Carifi Jr. to withdraw from the primary race for Mayor. James Carifi rejected the offer. Inglesino’s alleged job offer directly conflicts with later statements Inglesino made to the Star Ledger in April 30, 2013 and October 1, 2013, regarding how James Carifi “was never eligible to be promoted (to Deputy Chief) in the first place….”
The complaint maintains Inglesino and Barberio regularly expanded upon their “serious work related misconduct” accusations against James Carifi to include a wider set of charges that were inconsistent to what the Township accepted, permitted and/or tolerated from other police officers within the department.
While Inglesino and Barberio repeatedly alleged James Carifi may have illegally copied and deleted work information from township police computers, the Townships lawsuit against Carifi does not mention that in 2008 over 100 external flash drives were given out to Parsippany Police officers. According to the 2014 budget worksheets, more flash drives are being ordered for the police department.
All of this information was obtained through OPRA requests and Parsippany Focus was provided with the Police Department’s Certification Sheets reflecting the officers signatures for this device.
In addition, Inglesino has stated that James Carifi violated the Township’s employee handbook by not requesting permission from the “Township Administrator” prior to deleting department e-mails. Via an OPRA request, approximately 100 former and current Township employees (most from the Police Department) have never requested permission from the “Township Administrator” to delete any emails (see document 1, document 2, document 3). It does not appear as if any other current or former employee is under investigation. It should be noted that Parsippany Focus only requested approximately 100 current and former employees records from the Township Administrator.
Court documented time line of Barberio and Inglesino’s political vendetta against Carifi filed in State Superior Court:
November 12, 2012: Mayor Barberio meets Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr., at Applebee’s in Parsippany asking if he is running for Mayor on the Republican ticket in 2013. He indicated he was undecided. Barberio suggested to Paul Carifi Jr., “it would not be good for your brother (James)” if Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr., ran for Mayor.
January 13, 2013: Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Mayor Barberio, Township Attorney John Inglesino and then-council President Brian Stanton meet with Dr. Louis Valori and offer Valori a Police Department job to stay out of the Council race for $50,000 a year. This meeting was memorialized by an audio recording.
January 14, 2013: Paul Carifi, Jr., announces he would run for Republican nomination for Mayor.
February 7, 2013: Dr. Louis Valori and Robert Peluso announced they will be running for Township Council on the same ticket with Paul Carifi, Jr., for Mayor. (Click here to see related article)
February 8, 2013: The day after Valori and Peluso announcements, Township Attorney Inglesino instructs then Parsippany Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo to have Captain Carifi’s department assigned computer ready for Monday, February 11 in order to be turned over to Aurora Security Group.
February 11, 2013: Aurora Security Group forensically images Captain Carifi’s department computer’s hard drives.
February 21, 2103: Inglesino unsuccessfully plays “Let’s make a job offer deal” and offers Captain Carifi a Deputy Chief’s job during a court-ordered mediation if Carifi drops his prior lawsuit and persuades his brother, Paul Carifi Jr., to withdraw from the Primary Race for Mayor.
March 4, 2013: Valori goes public with Barberio’s January 13, 2013 offering Valori a job for $50,000.00. Although the tape recording clearly illustrates that a job was being offered to Mr. Valori, Barberio denied the job offer. Apparently, prior to Barberio knowing that a tape existed of the Sunday, January 13 meeting, Barberio issued a press release to NJ.com that said “I never offered (Valori) him a job nor did I ever authorize anyone to offer him a job on my behalf.” Listen to audio recording by clicking here. (Editors note: Inglesino received a May 9 letter from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office saying the investigation was over and no criminal charges would be filed.)
March 4, 2013: Same day as Valori’s allegations are published, Inglesino contacts Aurora Security Group and gives them authorization to search the Police Department’s network system for Carifi’s activities.
March 15, 2013: Captain Carifi submits retirement letter to end the hostile work environment.
March 27, 2013: Parsippany Police Captain Rich Pantina forwards to a Morris County Prosecutor detective numerous documents Aurora retrieved from Captain Carifi’s computer. Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Detective determines that the information provided by Aurora did not amount to evidence of a crime.
March 27, 2013: Acting Police Chief Paul Philipps informs Captain Carifi that he cannot retire and that he is under investigation.
March 28, 2013: Morris County Special Assistant Prosecutor Robert Weber and Prosecutor’s Office Detective advise acting Chief Philipps that the Prosecutor’s Office did not see evidence of a crime in Aurora documents. The Morris County Prosecutor’s office indicated they would document their negative findings in a letter and send the matter back to Parsippany Police due to not finding any evidence of a crime.
April 11, 2013: Chief Philipps receives letter from Morris County Prosecutor’s office confirming Aurora documents do not show Carifi committed a crime. Chief Philipps withholds this information from James Carifi until July 25,2013, well after the June Primary race for Mayor and over 3-1/2 months from receiving this information.
May 2013: Mayor Barberio used unfounded accusations protected by the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines under Internal Affairs in a campaign mailer mass distributed to township residents. The campaign headline read” Captain accused of possible stealing Police information.”