Director Of County Garage In Passaic County Charged With Theft Of Hidden Cash

25 08 2010

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that the director of the Passaic County Garage was charged today with stealing a large amount of cash found hidden in a car that was seized by law enforcement during a drug investigation. He was also charged with stealing an engine from a second vehicle.

According Director Taylor, Paolo “Paul” Mariano, 52, of Wayne, was charged by complaint with two counts of second-degree official misconduct, one for the theft of cash and a second for the theft of the engine. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison.

The investigation revealed that Mariano allegedly stole a large quantity of cash found inside a 2000 Ford Taurus that had been seized during an investigation by the Passaic County Drug Task Force in 2004. The car was being repaired for use as an undercover car in 2005 when county mechanics found the cash in a hidden compartment. They found three or four stacks of $100 bills, each more than an inch thick, estimated at about $100,000. The mechanics told Mariano. He allegedly took possession of the car and the cash, and directed them not to report anything. It is alleged that Mariano subsequently had a mechanic disassemble the car.

Mariano is also charged with directing county mechanics in November 2006 to remove an engine from a 1995 Toyota 4-Runner that had been seized by the county. Mariano allegedly had the mechanics place the engine into a 1993 Toyota 4-Runner that he had given to his girlfriend but titled in his own name. The stolen engine was in better condition than the one that was replaced. Mariano allegedly sold that car, with the engine from the county vehicle, to an undercover detective on May 14, 2010 for $2,000.

Mariano is expected to surrender to detectives from the Division of Criminal Justice. The complaint is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.

The investigation was led by Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello, Deputy Chief Paul Castellvi, Detective Scott Donlan, and Detective Harry Maronpot Jr. They were assisted by Sgt. David Salzmann and Detectives Laura Clarke, Ruben Contreras and Nick Olenick.

Passaic Woman Is Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Bank Robberies

17 08 2010

Passaic-A 35-year-old woman has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for committing three bank robberies in northern New Jersey.

Norma Balderas-Dehernandez of Passaic pleaded guilty in January to robbing two banks in Clifton and one in Passaic last year.

She was arrested on Aug. 26 while attempting to rob another bank in Clifton.

At each bank she handed the teller a note written in Spanish saying she had a gun and demanding money.

Investigators say proceeds from the three robberies totaled more than $8,000.

(News Source: NJ .com)

Bergen County Imposes Mandatory Water-Use Restrictions

15 08 2010

Hackensack-Bergen County has imposed mandatory restrictions on lawn watering at the request of the area’s major water supplier.

Under an executive order issued today by Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney, county residents served by United Water New Jersey may water their lawns only every other day and only during certain hours.

Last week, citing “serious drops” in reservoir levels, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought watch for five northern New Jersey counties, including Bergen. The other counties included in the drought watch are Essex, Hudson, Morris and Passaic.

Residents and businesses in those four counties are asked to voluntarily conserve water as the hot and dry conditions continue.

The DEP said unusually hot and dry conditions this summer have greatly increased demand for water, raising concerns about reservoir levels. McNerney urged Bergen residents to conserve and said municipal water utilities could impose more stringent restrictions if needed.

(News Source NJ .com)

60 School Administrators Earn More Pay Then Christie

13 08 2010

TRENTON (AP) — It’s not clear whether salary caps that Gov. Chris Christie wants for New Jersey’s school superintendents would apply to private schools funded with tax dollars.

An analysis by The Record newspaper found more than 60 administrators for the state’s 171 private special education schools earn more than the $175,000 cap.

None of the state’s special education private schools had more than 460 students last year.

Education Department spokesman Alan Guenther said the rules still are being drafted and will be presented in September, but the governor’s spokesman indicated that the cap should be consistent for all state-paid school administrator salaries.

Pay levels at special private schools are controlled by the state because most of the money the schools make is from tuition paid by the public schools that send students.

For the 2009-10 school year, the state Education Department capped compensation for administrators at private special education schools at $215,000 no matter how many students there were.

“I don’t know how we could justify salaries of $215,000 or more for superintendents or CEOs of schools with 500 or less students, even considering those are special needs students. Not when we’re applying a salary cap significantly lower for superintendents supervising public school districts with multiples of that number of students,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.

According to The Record, the state could save nearly $2 million in tuition if the cap is applied to the private schools.

Gerard Thiers, executive director of the Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped, said the schools are adhering to the cap that is in place. He said most special education school chiefs earn $150,000 on average, according to a recent survey.

“Special education by its nature is very expensive,” Thiers said, adding that private schools directors also have additional tasks that traditional superintendents might not, such as fundraising and negotiating with vendors.

At the Institute for Educational Achievement in New Milford, a nonprofit school for children with autism, executive director Dawn B. Townsend was paid nearly $199,000 last year — a year when IEA accepted 28 students.

A message left for Townsend by the Associated Press on Thursday was not immediately returned.

ECLC of New Jersey, which has special education schools in Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus, taught 333 students last year; its adult programs served dozens more.

Executive director Bruce Litinger made $222,959 and was allowed to exceed the cap because he oversaw the non-school programs.

“If they changed that state salary requirement, we would comply with it,” said ECLC business manager Jean Earle.

Litinger was on vacation on Thursday and other ECLC school officials did not immediately return calls for comment from The AP.

The governor makes $175,000 a year. In July, he proposed limiting pay for school superintendents and other administrators to a maximum of $175,000 based on district size. There must be at least 10,000 students in the district for a superintendent to be paid that much.

The top salary for a district with fewer than 250 students would be $120,000 for the superintendent.

According to the governor’s office, the proposal would mean pay cuts for 366 public superintendents at the end of their contracts, saving school districts $9.8 million.

(News Source: NJ Herald .com)

Amid Corruption Allegations, Passaic County Sheriff Speziale Resigns, Accepts Top Port Authority Position

11 08 2010

Passaic-Jerry Speziale knows how to make a dramatic entrance, whether chasing thieves, clubbing with Paris Hilton or playing a good cop in a movie. And his newest stage is the Port Authority Police Department.

Speziale abruptly resigned Tuesday after nine turbulent years as Passaic County sheriff to take a job with the Port Authority. Citing family reasons — his wife, Maggie, has been treated for cancer — Speziale abandoned a reelection bid and said he’d donate his $1 million campaign war chest to charity.

“It was an honor to serve as sheriff, and I will always be thankful to the citizens of Passaic County for the opportunity of protecting their homes and neighborhoods and creating a better quality of life,” Speziale said

Although it had been quietly in the works for months, his jump to the job of “deputy superintendent and assistant director or public safety” for the Port Authority Police Department took almost everyone by surprise.

“I spoke with him two days ago, and there was no indication that he was going to resign,” said Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes. “He will be missed. He was more than just a figurehead as sheriff. He was a good street cop, and you could always count on him to help you with a case.”

Speziale’s right-hand man, Undersheriff Charles Meyers, was sworn in as acting sheriff Tuesday and will oversee the department until Governor Christie appoints an interim sheriff.

News Source: North Jersey .com