SOMERVILLE, NJ - Republican candidate for Sheriff and North Plainfield Chief of Police Bill Parenti has called on his opponent, Democrat Darrin Russo, to explain to voters why they should trust him, given his abuse of union time, his refusal to repay taxpayers for taking advantage of them, and his documented history of having trouble telling the truth.
Parenti’s campaign, since August, has called on Russo to pay back at least 1,012.5 hours of union-time taken from 2014 until his retirement in June of 2016. Russo was an officer in the Franklin Township Police Department.
This is Russo’s second run in with “union time” - in 1996, Russo received a formal reprimand for violating three police department rules and regulations by leaving his post without permission for what he called “union-related activities.” Russo claimed violation of his constitutional rights and to have received permission prior to leaving his post and attempted to challenge the reprimand in court, but was unsuccessful in his original suit and appeal.
In addition, Parenti calls on Russo to explain why he was twice reprimanded by state and federal judges for “improper” testimony and “reckless disregard for the truth” that only attribute to increasing community-police tensions.
“Taxes in New Jersey keep going up because of bad actors like Darrin Russo. Darrin’s constant choices to manipulate the system for his financial benefit speaks volumes - not only about his character, but when you examine this and his penchant for misleading testimony, you realize that Darrin is only out for Darrin and not us,” said Parenti.
Parenti cited two instances where Russo’s credibility as an officer has been called into question through reprimands handed down by state and federal judges. In 2012, a New Jersey Appellate Court reversed and remanded the five-year sentence and conviction of Jose Kovacs because of the “improper” testimony of Russo and in 2000, the Third Circuit Court for the U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that Russo, “acted in reckless disregard for the truth."
“My opponent is campaigning on a platform of improving community-police relations. Darrin needs to explain how voters could possibly trust him, given his abuse of the system and his issues with the truth. As law enforcement officers, we’re charged with upholding the Constitution and the truth – something my opponent apparently continues to forget or disregard. Today, I’m asking Darrin which is it – forgetting to uphold his oath, or a reckless disregard for the truth,” concluded Parenti.
Sources for this submission cited by the Somerset County Republican Party include: Open Public Records Request No. 19-0972, fulfilled 9/18/19; Election 2019: Somerset County Sheriff Candidates Trade Jabs Over Use Of ‘Union Time’, Franklin Reporter, 8/24/19; Franklin Officer Charges Township with Improperly Reprimanding Him, The Star Ledger, 7/30/96; Officers’ Lawsuits Dismissed, The Courier News, 10/17/96; Case No. A-3323-09T2, State Of New Jersey V. Kovacs, New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division, Filed 1/6/12 and Case No. 98-5283, Wilson, Et Al. V. Russo Et Al., U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Third Circuit, Filed 5/19/ 00.