Is this an offer? Or a Bribe? You Decide.

parsippany focus

lettersDear Editor:

Town attorney John Inglesino opened the Tuesday, May 14 council meeting reading a prepared statement regarding the decision of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office not to pursue criminal charges against Mayor James Barberio, Council President Brian Stanton and himself.

The meeting was held at Parsippany High School, as previously scheduled.  It was being held at the High School in anticipation of large crowds due to the ongoing hearings of the Waterview Project, although Waterview was not on the agenda.

Inglesino claimed vindication over the decision, which was prompted by a probe based on claims by former retired Parsippany sergeant and current council candidate Dr. Louis Valori. The candidate had claimed Inglesino, Mayor James Barberio and Council President Brian Stanton offered him a $50,000 police department public relations job to keep him out of the 2013 election race.  Valori made an audio recording of that meeting, which Barberio, Stanton and Inglesino attended, though Inglesino acknowledged Tuesday he “forgot to bill the township for his time” for the meeting held on Sunday, January 13.

Valori took his complaints—and the recording he made of the Sunday, January 13, Town Hall meeting where the job was discussed—to law enforcement. Valori, during the public portion of the meeting, played into a microphone a two-minute clip of Barberio and Inglesino discussing the job with Valori. The recording titled “ Is this a an offer? Or a Bribe? You Decide!, was posted Wednesday on  Valori was limited to five minutes, although members of the audience were annoyed when Council President Brian Stanton cut Valori off, “saying Ingeslino had unlimited time to read his speech.” On the audio tape excerpt, three distinct voices can be heard discussing one participant’s interest in a municipal job that would include public relations work and pay $50,000 annually for “work at the pleasure of the mayor”. None of the speakers on the tape were clearly identified by name.

Inglesino cited from a letter dated May 9 letter from First Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Chirichella from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office stating “At the conclusion of the investigation and review thereof, it was determined that criminal prosecution in this matter is not viable. It has also been determined that further criminal investigation is not warranted in this matter and, as a result, this case has been closed.”
Valori criticized the prosecutor’s findings and said he will take his allegations to federal law enforcement to find a “fair and impartial investigation.” Valori also stated he did not receive a copy of the findings from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, although the letter indicated it was copied to Mr. Valori.

Inglesino’s speech titled “Valori’s Big Lie, by John P. Ingelesino, Esq. dated May 14, 2013 is printed in its entirety here:

I would like each of you to imagine how you would feel if someone deliberately, with malice and forethought, manufactured a big lie about you. Not just any lie — but an accusation that you committed a crime — the crime of bribery. How would you feel if that lie was spread all over the newspapers and the Internet, damaging your name and your reputation. Think about how you would feel. And the lie is not just told once, but told over and over again and again. Think of all the aspects of your life that would be turned upside down from that lie. It’s like a big dark cloud hovering over every aspect of your life. Your family, your children, your business relationships are all affected. If you can imagine that, then you will only begin to imagine what Mayor Barberio, Council President Stanton and I have been living with these past two and a half months.

Tonight, Lou Valori’s big lie is exposed. On March 3, 2013, the Patch broke news of Valori’s big lie. The Patch reporter gave considerable credibility to Mr. Valori even though he presented no evidence whatsoever to support his big lie. Not once has the Patch, or any other news agency, challenged Mr. Valori to provide any evidence to support his allegation. They just printed Valori’s big lie as if it were true and then put the burden on us to prove it didn’t happen. The story was quickly picked up by other news agencies; and before long, Valori’s big lie was front page news — just as he planned. His accusation was straightforward. Valori claimed that he was offered a town job to keep him out of this year’s Council race. In other words, Valori claimed he was bribed — a very serious allegation. Mayor Barberio and Council President Stanton immediately offered strong public statements refuting Valori’s outlandish claim.

To Valori, and others of similar character, you don’t just tell little lies. You tell big lies. Why? Because people tend to believe the big lie. It plays into their natural cynicism about government and elected officials. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s elected officials have given the public good reason to be cynical. Bad people like Lou Valori pray on that cynicism to lie about good decent public servants.
Valori was not content simply having his big lie play out in the press as a “he said she said.” No, in order to give his big lie credibility, he knew he had to up the ante. So Valori demanded an investigation — and then he took to the microphones to announce that the Somerset County Prosecutors Office was investigating the Mayor, council president and the township attorney.

Valori’s big lie was proceeding according to plan. But, Valori made a big miscalculation. More on that in a few.
On Monday, April, 2013, the township received a grand jury subpoena issued by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Somerset County. That subpoena compelled the production of certain specific documents from the Town Clerk. The subpoena also contained a non-disclosure provision. This was the first official notice indicating that Valori had succeeded in initiating a criminal investigation.

Personally, I anticipated that Valori would advance his lies to this level. After all, he is a former police officer trained in initiating and conducting investigations. He knew how to get that ball rolling.
I informed council members of the situation and advised them to remain silent on the Valori matter to comply with the subpoena.

So the record is clear, my motivation in quelling a certain resident’s questions at the April 2 Council meeting had nothing to do with free speech. My purpose was to ensure compliance with the subpoena and to protect every member on this dais from the charge that they somehow interfered with a criminal investigation. I know the resident didn’t know that at the time.

Indeed, I wasn’t at liberty to tell her then what I just shared with you all now. In the future, I ask for some deference when I give advice or direction at a meeting. I can assure you that my purpose is always to protect the township’s interest even if that interest may not always be directly apparent.

As many of you know, representatives of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office came to Parsippany-Troy Hills Town Hall to obtain subpoena documents. I want to emphasize that every Parsippany employee involved in this matter fully cooperated with the Prosecutor’s Office. However, I do want to clarify one inaccuracy reported in the press. The Patch reported that representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office were actually in the Mayor’s Office and spoke with the Mayor in the municipal building. That report is not accurate.

After receiving the subpoena, the mayor, council president and I all retained attorneys at our sole cost and expense. Our attorneys advised us that we were under no obligation to speak with the Prosecutor’s Office. We were reminded that the Prosecutor’s Office had the burden of proof if it sought to bring charges. We were also advised that anything we said could be used against us. But we knew there was only one way to clear our names and to expose Valori’s big lie — and that was to subject ourselves to questioning by the Prosecutor’s Office’s and to fully cooperate with it in every way. After all, we had nothing to hide. Each of us appeared separately at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office for questioning. We were all questioned under oath. We answered each and every question asked thoroughly and to the best of our ability. We fully cooperated with every request made by the Prosecutor’s Office.

That is where Valori miscalculated. He never thought that we would cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office. He never thought we would voluntarily subject ourselves to questioning under oath. He never thought the Prosecutor’s Office would conclude its investigation before June 4. Valori was wrong. He miscalculated. And now his big lie is exposed.

After a thorough review of Valori’s allegation, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has vindicated the mayor, council president and I from any wrongdoing and has closed its investigation of this matter.
By letter dated May 9, 2013, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office concluded that based on various evidence reviewed, which included various interviews, documents and a “surreptitious recording made by Mr. Valori,” that a “criminal prosecution in this matter is not viable.” The Prosecutor’s Office also advised that “further criminal investigation is not warranted in this matter and, as a result, this case has been closed.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a letter of exoneration. This matter has been thoroughly investigated by an independent highly respected law enforcement agency. They have concluded that Mr. Valori’s charge has no merit. Mayor Barberio’s public comments on this matter have been completely accurate and truthful. Mr. Valori’s statements have not. As for why Mr. Valori would go to such an extreme to lie and defame our character, refer you to the Mayor’s previous public statements on this matter. Again, the Mayor has told the truth. Valori has lied.

For those of you who had doubts about whether Valori’s story was true, the prosecutor’s letter of vindication makes clear that no wrongdoing occurred. For those of you who believed Valori’s story, you now know that you were fooled and lied to— not by the Mayor, the Council President or I¬ but by Louie the Liar Valori.
Tonight, Valori’s big lie has nowhere to hide.

I hope that members of the press, who so gloriously reported Valori’s allegation, will equally report our vindication. The press should also ask Valori a simple but important question. Are you sorry you lied?
If Mr. Valori does the honorable thing and apologies for his lie — if he is contrite — if his apology is unequivocal and genuinely remorseful, then I (and I only speak for myself) am willing to turn the page and move on. But, if Mr. Valori fails to do the right thing, if he continues the big lie, then I retain the ability to assert my legal rights at a time of my choosing. If there was ever a clear case of defamation, this is it.
Valori, however, stresses the letter only states that prosecution in the matter is “not viable,” does not accuse him of lying and that he will ask for a follow-up federal investigation.

“I told nothing but 100 percent the truth,” Valori said. “I was surprised (by the letter) and find it very surprising that Inglesino got it before me. … I was never followed up in any interviews. … It shows a pattern of behavior that this case is not a priority for the authorities. I was also told (by someone on the Somerset office) the results of the investigation would not be released until after the primary so as to not affect the outcome of the election.”

Previously, Barberio denied making Valori a job offer to keep him out of the race, but refused to say more, dismissing the allegations as a politically motivated “smear campaign.” Council President Brian Stanton publicly admitted the meeting took place on Sunday, January 13 but strongly denied any job offer was made.