Did Christie's Lt. Gov. Falsify Docs To Help New Hire Double-Dip?

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is probably not the most credible person to attack Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's honesty.
Did Christie's Lt. Gov. Falsify Docs To Help New Hire Double-Dip?

There is one big problem with the lieutenant governor's defense (beside the fact that she may have told Zimmer if she ever went public, she'd deny saying it) -- Guadagno herself is in the middle of another investigation:

UNION BEACH — Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno denied allegations by the Hoboken mayor that Guadagno, at the direction of Gov. Chris Christie, pushed a development project in the Hudson County city by holding superstorm Sandy aid hostage.

Guadagno, at a pre-planned appearance in Union Beach, addressed Dawn Zimmer’s weekend comments.

“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined,” Guadagno said. Any suggestion, any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false. Standing in Union Beach as we are today with some of the mayors whose towns were devastated by Sandy and also being a Sandy victim myself makes the mayor’s allegations particularly offensive to me.”

Zimmer said during several television interviews on Saturday and Sunday that the lieutenant governor told her Sandy money would begin to flow to Hoboken once the project pitched by David Samson’s law firm was approved..

Let's look at a little of Kim's background, shall we?

His running mate, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, is a central figure in a hush-hush pension fraud probe that began more than two years ago. Now the Christie Administration is arguing in court that the outcome, findings and all other records of the investigation should remain state secrets.

In a quest for those records, a New Jersey Watchdog reporter is suing the state Division of Criminal Justice. A hearing is scheduled for October 3 in Mercer County Superior Court.
DCJ began its investigation in May 2011 at the behest of a pension board, according to a sworn statement by a state official. Christie, Guadagno and DCJ officials have declined comment. In court papers, the state refuses to acknowledge whether the case is open or closed.


↓ Story continues below ↓

The inquiry followed an investigative report by New Jersey Watchdog detailing how false statements by Guadagno enabled one of her top aides to improperly collect and keep $245,000 from the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.

As Monmouth County sheriff in 2008, Guadagno hired Michael W. Donovan Jr. as “chief of law enforcement division” at a $87,500 annual salary. She announced the appointment in a memo to her staff. The sheriff’s official website identified Donovan as “sheriff’s officer chief,” supervising 115 subordinate officers and 30 civilian employees.

Donovan faced a legal problem. He was already collecting an $85,000 a year state pension as a retired investigator for the county prosecutor. While double-dipping is often legal in New Jersey, this case was different.

Since the position of sheriff’s officer chief is covered by the pension system, Donovan should have been required to stop receiving benefits, re-enroll in the retirement plan and resume contributions to the pension fund.

Instead, Guadagno falsified Donovan’s job title in several documents so her aide could get two checks, not just one, totaling $172,500 a year.

In county payroll records, the oath of office and a news release, Donovan was listed as the sheriff’s “chief warrant officer” – a similar sounding, but low-ranking position that’s not in the pension system. A chief warrant officer is responsible for serving warrants and other legal documents.

However, on Guadagno’s organizational chart, Donovan was listed as chief of law enforcement. The position of chief warrant officer was not on the chart.

While sheriff’s chief, Donovan pocketed $227,000 in checks from PFRS. Since he did not re-enroll in the pension plan, he avoided another $18,000 in contributions.

If the state decides Donovan violated pension law, he could be forced to repay $245,000.

[...] Rather than appoint an independent prosecutor or special investigator, Christie allowed DCJ to run the case.

It is an obvious conflict-of-interest. Guadagno is a former DCJ deputy director and now Christie’s second-in-command. She sits in the governor’s cabinet alongside the state attorney general, who is in charge of DCJ.

[...] The reporter sued DCJ in Superior Court after the agency denied an Open Public Records Act request. The suit also seeks investigative records on sheriff’s officers John Dough of Essex County and Harold Gibson of Union County.

In the opposition brief, the attorney general argues the documents should be withheld to “protect those alleged to have committed corruption-related offenses from being pre-judged merely because allegations have been made against them,” among other reasons.

About Susie Madrak

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.