Government

Berkeley Heights Claims Former Council Candidate Broke State Law

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Edited on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 5:35 p.m.

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The township’s attorney has complained to the county prosecutor that a former candidate for Township Council has violated state law.

A letter from attorney Joe Sordillopdf alleges that Edmund "Thomas" Maciejewski's recent Initiative and Referendum Petition – seeking changes to the Berkeley Heights Sunshine Act -  contained "blatant and severe violations of New Jersey law." 

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In the letter, Sordillo tells the Union County Prosecutor that Maciejewski knowingly signed false affidavits claiming "he, and he only, personally circulated the foregoing paper, that all the signatures appended thereto were made in his presence, and that he believes them to be the genuine signatures of the persons names they purport to be."  

The letter claims the township is aware - through personal knowledge of Township Council members and information received from others - that Maciejewski did not personally circulate each of the separate petition papers.

If Maciejewski had not personally circulated the petitions, then not all of the signatures could have been made in his presence. That would make his affidavit false, Sordillo said, and would be a violation of state law.

The letter also claims that Maciejewski did not submit the actual copies of the Initiative Petition circulated as required by statute.

"The Township is aware that the copies of the proposed ordinance being circulated were modified to contain specifically highlighted sections with different formatting,” the letter states. “None of the initiative petition papers filed with the Township Clerk contained any such highlighted language. This leads the Township to believe that the version of the proposed ordinance actually being circulated was modified and misrepresented to the public when circulated for signatures." 

Sordillo concluded that such actions are improper and a violation of the Faulkner Act.

As reported in TAPinto Berkeley Heights, Municipal Clerk Ana Minkoff reviewed Maciejewski's petition that was presented to her on Nov. 7. She would later  reject the petition, claiming it did not comply with the "statutory requirements of ... the Faulkner Act." 

Minkoff's findings on Nov. 22 stated the petition failed in a number of ways, including:

  • it did not contain the actual petition papers and copies of the proposed ordinance that was circulated for signatures
  • the petition failed to include an affidavit of the circulator of each petition “that he, and he only, personally circulated the foregoing paper, that all signatures appended thereto were made in his presence, and that he believes them to be genuine signatures of the persons names they purport to be.”
  • Of the eight petitions filed, 30 of the 239 signatures were deficient

Maciejewski submitted a letter to Minkoff dated Dec. 1, 2017pdf stating his disagreement with Minkoff's conclusion. It accused her of being in violation of statute because, "the town attorney's intervention in this matter at this stage of the process is completely inappropriate and is a violation of statute."

"While I did actually witness each signature submitted, I did have three people assist me in collecting signature on the two petitions that bear control numbers 3 and 8,”  Maciejewski wrote. “The balance of the petitions submitted, i.e. those bearing control numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, contain signatures that were collected by me and me alone."

Maciejewski later submitted additional petitions that contained 109 signatures. Those are currently being verified by Minkoff.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights will report on the Union County Prosecutor's response as it become available.

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Editor's Note: The Berkeley Heights Township Council went into a closed-door “executive session” Tuesday evening claiming  attorney-client privilege regarding a lawsuit Maciejewski filed against the township and Township Clerk Ana Minkoff. The suit is in regards to his OPRA request  which sought the results of a Communication Committee's survey. TAPinto Berkeley Heights will report as more information becomes available.

TAPinto Editor Curtis Leads contributed to this article.

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