PARSIPPANY — During the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council Meeting on Tuesday, September 3, the standing room only crowd cheered for Former Captain James Carifi as the Township Council approved Resolution R2019-177, “Authorizing the payment to James Carifi Unused Accrued Leave with Interest.”
Councilman Michael dePierro, who introduced a similar version of the resolution at the Tuesday, August 20 meeting, re-introduced the revised version. Councilwoman Loretta Gragnani then seconded the motion. Council Vice President Janice McCarthy also voted in favor of the resolution. Councilwoman Emily Peterson abstained and Council President Paul Carifi recused himself. The resolution called to payout $368,482.02 plus accrued interest at the rate of 2.25% from his retirement date of April 1, 2013.
Councilwoman Peterson stated “I believe, and I have always believed since my first day in this chair and I have argued behind closed doors that Mr. Carifi is owed this money. (The crowd cheered at this point) Let me finish. However, with the potentially access to the declassified documents… However with the absence of knowing the impact on our insurance pursuant to this case, I’m going to continue to abstain from this.”
Councilman dePierro said, “The money owed to James Carifi is punitive. The township owes him his pay and sick time and the money has been put aside. Also, at no time did legal ever recommend we give Carifi the money we owe him. I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I haven’t spoken to James Carifi in six and a half years”.
“The motion pays Mr. Carifi the earn contractual obligated compensation when he retired in good standing. And I can’t speak to anyone’s motivation in this matter, but for me, after reviewing the information, in my opinion, it’s the right thing to do. I vote yes.” stated Council Vice President Janice McCarthy.
Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Attorney James Lott voiced his objections to the resolution.
The prepared agenda included an Executive Session to discuss the resolution, but motion failed to pass with a 2-2 vote with Gragnani and dePierro voting against and McCarthy and Peterson voting in favor. Attorney James Lott said “Just advice for the Council Vice President acting as presiding officer. I’ll note for the record, the Council was advised that we have Mr. Parikh here as well as Mr. Renaut. Mr. Parikh, our special mitigation counsel in Carifi matters. Mr. Renaut currently represents the Township on Carifi 3 and Carifi 4. It’s my advice that, it would be imprudent for the Council to take action on Resolution 2019-177 without hearing from Township Attorneys in closed session. I would respectfully request that we move into closed session and to have the Council reconsider its vote.”
Mayor Michael Soriano stated after the vote “The Friday after your introduction, the ham-handed introduction of this motion, which was against protocol. The attorney released a 50 page memo to Council and to myself detailing all the aspects of that. Since we cannot do this in a closed session, because we have a deadlock in a closed session, I would ask the Council to waive it and release this privilege document to the public. So the public can know exactly what the Township Attorney has been advising everyone and what the council needs to discuss related to this issue. I would ask you to do that now. Second. Yeah, we could settle this now. We could settle this tonight. We have our attorney here for this. We have the attorney for the Carifi case. We could go and take care of this right now.”
Pursuant to the Township’s practices governing the payment of accrued leave due eligible employees, any payment to Captain Carifi shall not exceed his annual base salary when he retired in any given year. The first payment is to be made within seven days of the approval of the resolution, in accordance with the schedule of regular salary payment made to Township employees.