Board of Education Forensic Audit Reveals Financial Improprieties

CPA Dieter Lerch presents his findings to the board. Credits: Fran Sullivan

ELIZABETH, NJ – A vendor related to a member of the Elizabeth school board was paid about $400,000 over the past five years for work that was improperly never put out to bid, according to a forensic audit revealed March 17.

The results of the audit, presented at the Elizabeth Board of Education meeting by attorney Lester Taylor and accountant Dieter Lerch, found that about $80,000 per year was paid each year, for the past five years, to Trujillo Construction, a firm related to school board member Carlos Trujillo. 

The board mandates that any work costing $36,000 or more must be put out for bid, said Taylor and Lerch. They said the invoices were not detailed and contained only one-line items and they noted the checks were sent to the home of another board member.

Sign Up for E-News

“Have I done something wrong?” asked Trujillo at the meeting. “Have I done something illegal?”

School board attorney Jonathan Williams said he didn’t think so, but said the issue warrants further review.

Other audit findings fell into several categories. Lerch reported that 35 former employees were still receiving health coverage despite being no longer eligible. This, he said, is costing $18,500 per month. From the time these employees left their jobs, the board has paid $350,000 for their insurance premiums, said the accountant.

Lerch also revealed bid violations. He said he found $70,000 worth of violations involving mechanical services. He also said he found that the board paid $107,000 for asphalt work that was bid at $50,300.

Lerch said snow removal that was bid at $78,300 actually cost the board $232,000 and auto repairs bid at $100,000 came in at $130,000.

Emergency services, such as heating and air conditioning abatements and asbestos removals were bid out at $170,000 and the actual cost was $227,000, said Lerch. 

In other board business, a tentative $569.4 million budget was passed for the 2016-2017 school year. Among the highlights of the tentative budget, approved by the Board in a 6-1-1 vote, are a 0 percent tax increase to local taxpayers and no reduction of district personnel.

The budget approved by the Board is a tentative budget, meaning modifications or necessary improvements may still be made through April 29, said the board. A public hearing on the budget will be held at the Donald Stewart Early Childhood Center in Elizabeth on May 5, 2016 at 7 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Tue, February 20, 11:00 AM

Vauxhall Library, Vauxhall

Toddler & Pre-K Program


Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Vauxhall Library, Vauxhall

Club Teen: Painting Class

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, February 21, 7:00 PM

Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains

Course on Biblical Interpretation Taught by ...

Education Religions And Spirituality

Union County Freeholders Partner in Two Upcoming Hiring Events

February 17, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders have announced two hiring event opportunities coming up with Griswold Home Care of Union County and the United Airlines “Summer Assist” youth program.

The first event is with Griswold Home Care of Union County. They are a privately owned, non-medical home care company and are looking for Certified Home Health Aides ...

“Hidden in Plain Sight” - A Presentation Centered Around a Teen’s Bedroom 

ROSELLE, NJ - Elizabeth Parents, grandparents, caregivers, when it comes to your children and drugs, do you know where to look? Do you know what you are looking for? You may be surprised at what is "Hidden in Plain Sight."

The Roselle Everett Hatcher Prevention Coalition and Prevention Links invite all parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and other adults from the city of ...

Summit resident Nancy King will be honored with a Lifetime Service Award from Elizabeth Organization

ELIZABETH, NJ - Summit resident Nancy King will be honored with a Lifetime Service Award as Family and Children’s Services of Elizabeth, celebrates its 125th anniversary, hosting the organization's sixth annual Red Carpet Party March 1, at Canoe Brook Country Club.

King is the founder and benefactor of "Nancy’s Place," a Covenant House ... Named Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - has been named Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons, a network of more than 230 news organizations across New Jersey.  The award goes to a journalist or news organization that showed overall excellence in their work for 2017.    

Joe Amditis, Associate Director of the Center for Cooperative Media, said TAPinto won the award ...

At Westfield High School, Student Says ‘It’s Almost Normal to Juul Here’

February 16, 2018

Editor’s note: This story about the rise in teen e-cigarette use, written by Westfield High School student Greta Frontero, originally ran in the Jan. 8 edition of WHS student newspaper Hi’s Eye.

WESTFIELD, NJ — A 12th-grade Westfield High School female said she doesn’t bring her Juul to school, but will use someone else’s if the opportunity ...

Nutley Police Department: Video Does Not Contain Direct Threat to Nutley Public Schools

February 16, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Police Department reports that the video leading to Nutley Public Schools being closed on Friday did not pose a direct threat to any of the township's schools.

Police reported at 11 a.m. Friday that the person responsible for the video has been cooperating with the Nutley Police Department in their investigation. Interviews are on-going. The ...

Letter to the Editor: I Stand With Her for Union County Chairman

February 16, 2018

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward.   I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for.  Last week I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

'American Hero' explores with powerful performances

‘American Hero’ pulses with tension, clashing emotions at George Street

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNWICK – The issue of social injustice makes its way into “American Hero,” the second play in a trilogy by Christopher Demo-Brown.

Armand Schultz as Rob is to receive a medal of honor for his heroic actions during the Iraq war. Although he lost the use of his legs, he ...

Mintz & Geftic Secures Class Certification for Drivers in Wage and Hour Case

February 16, 2018

Is your employer failing to pay you time and a half for working more than 40 hours/week?

Is your employer misclassifying you as an independent contractor rather than an employee to avoid paying overtime premium pay?

These are some of the allegations being made by the plaintiffs and their attorney Bryan Mintz, of Mintz & Geftic LLC, against Big City Automotive and its ...