PARSIPPANY — Democratic activist and candidate for governor Bill Brennan filed a citizen’s complaint against Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barberio and Business Administrator Ellen Sandman in Parsippany Municipal Court on Friday, April 7, a move that could result in fourth degree criminal charges against the duo. Both defendants must appear in Morris County Superior Court on Wednesday, April 19 at 11:30 a.m.
The first complaint states on or about December 5, 2016 in Parsippany-Troy Hills, County of Morris the defendant did: “Within Jurisdiction of this Court, Unlawfully Hire Ramona J.Ortiz, to the title, Keyboarding Clerk I, above the salary range provided within the ordinance 2016:22 in violation of NJSA 11A:3-7D and “Within Jurisdiction of this Court, Unlawfully Hire Ramona J.Ortiz, to the title, Keyboarding Clerk I, above the salary range despite notice to the Business Administrator and Mayor that such payments are unlawful, contrary to and in violation of NJSA 11A:10-2.
The second complaint states on or about December 19, 2016 in Parsippany-Troy Hills, County of Morris the defendant did: “Within Jurisdiction of this Court, Unlawfully Hire Eugene Natoli, to the title, Keyboarding Clerk I, above the salary range provided within the ordinance 2016:22 in violation of NJSA 11A:3-7D and “Within Jurisdiction of this Court, Unlawfully Hire Eugene Natoli, to the title, Keyboarding Clerk I, above the salary range despite notice to the Business Administrator and Mayor that such payments are unlawful, contrary to and in violation of NJSA 11A:10-2.
NJSA 11A:3-7d states: Employee compensation. Employees of political subdivisions are to be paid in reasonable relationship to titles and shall not be paid a base salary below the minimum or above the maximum established salary for an employee’s title.
NJSA 11A:10-2 states: Criminal violation of title or order. Any person who purposely or knowingly violates or conspires to violate any provision of this title or Civil Service Commission order shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
“These fourth-degree crimes are a building block in a widespread corruption case I intend to bring over the next few months,” Brennan said. “John Inglesino is my target. Inglesino appears to be the root of all evil in Parsippany. He will not withstand scrutiny.”
Council Vice President Robert Peluso said he was reluctant to comment on pending litigation, but “As the mayor has seen fit to cast baseless allegations at me instead of answering the charges against him, I am forced to respond. This is just the latest allegation of misconduct against Mayor Barberio and his administration. Yet again, the people of Parsippany will pay for the mayor’s actions.”
Democrat Mayoral Candidate Michael Soriano stated “These are very serious accusations Mr. Brennan is alleging. The voters of Parsippany deserve answers.”
“This is news to me, I don’t know Mr. Brennan. I will say this I’m glad people are realizing what Barberio has been doing for far too long. Yes, Barberio definitely violated the town ordinance and continues to do so. He thinks he’s above the law, said Councilman Paul Carifi.
“What are the criminal Charges? Or are these Administrative charges? Was anyone served? Do you have a copy of this alleged complaint. I have not heard anything,” stated Council President President Louis Valori.
Email requests for quotes were sent to Mayor James R. Barberio, Council Member Michael J. dePierro, Council Member Loretta Gragnani, Business Administrator Ellen Sandman and Municipal Clerk Khaled Madin didn’t respond to an email request sent using the Township email system.
The complaints stem from a series of articles published in Parsippany Focus earlier this year. Barberio authorized the hiring of Retired Police Sergeant Eugene Natoli on December 19, 2016 at an annual salary of $50,000. The “Request for Personnel Action” report indicates he works in the “Administration Department” as a “Keyboarding Clerk 1.” The position is a full time, permanent position. (click here to read article)
The Personnel Action form was signed by Business Administrator Ellen Sandman.
Natoli retired from Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Police Department during October 2015 after being employed for 25 years. Natoli collects an annual pension of $91,560.00, based off a salary of $139,642.00, that is funded by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System. Natoli’s monthly pension payment is $7,630.00.
Natoli’s annual pension payment is 3.4 times greater than the average pension for retirees from Parsippany-Troy Hills Township and 3.5 times greater than the average pension in New Jersey ($25,983). Pensioners from Parsippany-Troy Hills Township have retired, on average, with a salary of $53,988 and annual pension of $27,079 after 25 years of service.
In a related article published on January 27, titled “Barberio Breaks Township Ordinances Elected to Enforce” Parsippany Focus asserts that Barberio violated the salary ordinance. The salary ordinance for white-collar workers, specifically Keyboarding Clerk 1, Ordinance 2016:22 states the salary is a minimum of $17,000 with a maximum of $48,000. He was hired at $2,000 more than the maximum amount allowed by Township Ordinance. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired Mr. Natoli in clear violation of the law. (click here to read complete Personnel Action form)
Then in an article published in Parsippany Focus on March 7, “Barberio Breaks Township Ordinances Elected to Enforce, Again,” a source inside Town Hall told Parsippany Focus that Barberio hired Ramona (Jackie) Ortiz effective December 5, 2016 as a Keyboarding Clerk I, at an annual salary of $54,000. The salary ordinance for white-collar workers, specifically Keyboarding Clerk 1, Ordinance 2016:22 states the salary is a minimum of $17,000 with a maximum of $48,000. She was hired at $6,000 more than the maximum amount allowed by Township Ordinance. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired Ms. Ortiz in clear violation of the law. (click here to read complete Personnel Action form)
The Personnel Action form was signed by Business Administrator Ellen Sandman.
During a Council Meeting, Councilman Carifi questioned Business Administrator Ellen Sandman about the amount being paid and she said “Yes the Mayor is still paying certain employees more than the allowed amount for positions.” So to me, he (The Mayor) obviously doesn’t care.
According to sources at Town Hall, Ms. Ortiz was hired to coordinate employee benefits. She was previously employed by Fairview Insurance. Fairview Insurance, a firm with close ties to the township donated approximately $50,000 to America’s Future First (AFF) and New Jersey’s Future First (NJFF) the political PACs that contributed directly to the reelection of Councilman Michael dePierro, and the election of Loretta Grangani. Vincent Ferrara was also a candidate but lost the election. Fairview Insurance is the Township’s Insurance Broker of Record.
In addition, the Director of Business Development for Fairview Insurance and liaison to the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, Ryan Graham, son of the founder of the firm, donated $12,000.00 to the Super PAC during this period.
According to New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the definition of a Keyboarding Clerk I is “Under close supervision, performs routine, repetitive clerical work involving the processing of documents in a variety of functions; formats and key enters/types correspondence, documents, reports, charts and other materials on a computer console, typewriter, or other key entry device used by the agency; does other related duties as required. Keyboarding clerks typically spend a majority of their work time (more than 50%) typing or operating keyboard equipment. Speed and accuracy are essential for all keyboarding positions.
This seems to be a normal event in Parsippany. This is not out of the ordinary for Mayor James Barberio to violate the white collar salary ordinance.
Business Administrator Ellen Sandman was hired in 2014, with $15,000 over the maximum salary guideline. When Mayor Barberio announced the hiring of Sandman, he revealed Sandman’s salary would be $140,000. Former Councilman Jonathan Nelson asked the Mayor in Public Session, “I don’t have the white collar salary ordinance in front of me but I believe this amount is over the salary cap,” Former CFO Joe Kovalcik stated that her pay was within the salary ordinance. Parsippany Focus filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the salary ordinance for white-collar workers at that time.
State Statute, 40:69A-40 states the duties of the Mayor shall enforce the charter and ordinances of the municipality and all general laws applicable thereto.
The salary ordinance indicated the white-collar workers, specifically Business Administrator, Ordinance 2013:16, passed on June 13, 2013 states the salary was a minimum of $75,000 with a maximum of $125,000. She was hired at $15,000 more than the Ordinance allowed. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired the new Business Administrator in clear violation of the law. (Click here to read article)
In an article on Plug Into Parsippany Mayor James Barberio published a story with the headline “CAHILL/FOCUS WRONG AGAIN! MAYOR BARBERIO DID NOT VIOLATE SALARY ORDINANCE!” His answer on the blog is clearly a “Smoke Screen.” Plug Into Parsippany is a political blog published with the consent of James Barberio.
Parsippany Focus published a follow-up article on March 24, clearly displaying all the documents which were obtained through Open Public Records Act (OPRA) indicating the facts published in the original story. (Click here to read story and view all the documents). At the same time, Parsippany Focus, published a public opinion poll, and 76.04% of the readers agreed with Parsippany Focus that the Mayor did violate the Salary Ordinance.
Brennan, a retired Teaneck firefighter filed a petition on Monday, April 3 to run for governor in the Democratic primary, has become something of an Energizer Bunny when it comes to citizen’s complaints.
He’s been pursuing an official misconduct charge against Governor Chris Christie over his alleged role in the Bridgegate lane closures since last October, and is currently appealing its dismissal last month by a Bergen Superior Court Judge.
The governor has denied all any wrongdoing or knowledge of the Bridgegate plot.
Earlier this week he filed a citizen’s complaint against former Port Authority chairman David Samson in Newark municipal court, a move that that could result in new criminal charges against Gov. Chris Christie’s longtime friend and mentor.