Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Questions remain on Guadagno pension-fraud probe after State shuts door on probe

From NOT NJ Watchdog:

The shadow of a pension fraud probe continues to hang over Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, who acted as titular head of New Jersey government for most of last year and is widely expected to run for governor in 2017.

With a recent appellate court ruling that released some records but withheld the findings of the investigation, it is unlikely the public will ever learn why the case was quietly dropped by the attorney general’s Division of Criminal Justice, where Guadagno once served as deputy director.

As Monmouth County sheriff, Guadagno made false and conflicting statements that enabled her chief officer, Michael Donovan, to collect an $85,000 a year pension in addition to his $87,500 salary. It was one of three cases the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System board of trustees referred to DCJ for investigation.

“The concerns raised are that the taxpayers of New Jersey are being defrauded,” wrote PFRS board secretary Wendy Jamison to then-Attorney General Paula Dow in June 2011. “Please provide this office with the outcome of this investigation.”

Instead, the DCJ refused to share the findings with PFRS, leaving its board without the guidance it sought on how to handle double-dipping abuses.

“Upon a thorough investigation of this matter, it is being returned to you for whatever administrative action you deem appropriate,” DCJ Corruption Bureau Chief Christine Hoffman informed PFRS in a June 2012 letter that reported the case closed, but little else.

The Appellate Division ordered the release of those two communications after a lengthy public records battle. Yet the judges allowed DCJ to keep secret a five-page memo that contains the findings of the investigation.

While the probe ended without prosecution, the underlying facts of the case continue to challenge Guadagno’s credibility.

The full story by investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist is now online at NJ Spotlight -

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