Law & Justice

Middlesex Ethics Board Dismisses Complaint Filed Against Its Attorney

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Middlesex County’s ethics board has thrown out a complaint that claimed the panel’s attorney violated state law by not filing a financial disclosure statement.

The board made the decision this afternoon during a special meeting in the county freeholders’ meeting room on Bayard Street in New Brunswick. In doing so, it cleared its attorney, Anthony Vignuolo, following a recommendation included in a report compiled by the county’s legal counsel.

“There’s just no reasonable basis to sustain the ethics violation alleged against Mr. Vignuolo,” the ethics board’s chairman, David Himelman, said before the unanimous vote.

Sign Up for E-News

Vignuolo didn’t attend the meeting. He didn’t immediately return a call to his office from TAPinto New Brunswick.

Charlie Kratovil, a city resident and the editor of the activist community newspaper New Brunswick Today, filed the Jan. 31 complaint against Vignuolo. Kratovil said he plans to take the allegations to the Local Finance Board, which oversees ethics issues for the state.

The complaint alleged that Vignuolo violated the county code of ethics and a state law that requires “local government officers” to formally disclose various sources of incomes and financial assets.

At issue, according to the county’s investigation, is whether Vignuolo qualifies as a local government officer in his role as attorney for the ethics board.

After a “thorough” search of state laws and opinions, county lawyers concluded that Vignuolo doesn’t provide “regular legal advice and representation to the ethics board, which meets only occasionally, and isn’t a local government officer. That means he didn’t need to file a financial disclosure statement last year, according to the report.

Middlesex attorneys also found no that the county code of ethics doesn’t require financial disclosure statements from people who serve in a capacity similar to that of Vignuolo.

“I don’t see any justification that you’ve mentioned to entertain the complaint,” said Albert Muzikar, a county ethics board member, citing the “comprehensive” review by Middlesex County lawyers.

Few people attended the 3 p.m. meeting, which ran exactly 30 minutes. But Kratovil was in attendance and argued his case prior to the board’s dismissal of the complaint.

He pointed to a state law enacted on March 6 that appears to consider contracted attorneys like Vignuolo “managerial executives” who must require financial disclosure forms.

Niki Athanasopoulos, senior deputy counsel to Middlesex County, said the new law isn’t retroactive—and Kratovil’s complaint pertained to 2016. What’s more, she called into question whether the statute applies to Vignuolo, given the infrequency with which the ethics board meets and and his “special,” limited role in county government.

Middlesex officials plan to review the new law and decide whether Vignuolo should submit a financial disclosure statement for 2017. The deadline to file has yet to pass.

While Kratovil intends to bring his complaint to the state level, he told TAPinto New Brunswick that the decision today sets a bad precedent.

He also filed a similar complaint against Vignuolo with the New Brunswick Ethics Board, which Vignuolo also represents. The status of that matter is unclear at this moment.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - October 17, 2017

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

NEWARK - The stars keep coming. Phil Murphy is calling in plenty of favors as a leading Democratic fundraiser, as all the stars of the Democratic Party are steadily streaming into New Jersey to stump for him as governor. There was Joe Biden. There was Al Gore. And now, TAPInto Newark reports, that Barack Obama will be at the Robert Treat Hotel ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, October 19, 7:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

Families Like Yours

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, October 21, 9:00 AM

South County Park, Lambertville

Flemington Speedway Historical Society Annual Car ...

Arts & Entertainment Other

Sat, October 21, 9:00 AM

South County Park, Lambertville

Flemington Speedway Historical Society Annual Car ...

Arts & Entertainment Other

Rutgers student sexually assaulted in College Avenue dorm room

October 16, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A female student affiliated with the university was reportedly sexually assaulted when a man randomly walked into her dorm room on October 13, according to police.

The assault happened at around 4:30 p.m. in Mettler Hall on College Avenue, Rutgers police said in a university-wide crime alert.

The victim was sitting in her room with the door open, when an unknown man ...

University eyeing former VP as potential commencement speaker

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Following the appearance of former Vice President Joe Biden at the Rutgers College Avenue Gym on October 12, the university is eyeing Biden as the potential 2018 commencement speaker.

The former vice president had dropped the rumor while taking selfies with students following his appearance, according to a post on the Rutgers subreddit.

Rutgers officials confirmed ...

9 events happening in New Brunswick this week

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - It finally feels like fall, and Halloween is fast approaching, so grab your pumpkin-spice latte and check out some of the Fall-themed and spooky events happening around the Hub City.  (If you have any great upcoming events in New Brunswick, please email me at dmunoz@tapinto.net)

And here we go:

October 17

The Yard @ College Avenue is hosting its annual Fall ...

South Brunswick Police Offering Reward For Gas Station Shooting Information

October 16, 2017

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Police, in conjunction with Middlesex County, are offering a reward for information regarding Sunday morning’s shooting during a botched robbery at a Route 27 gas station that left the attendant in serious condition.

In a press release Monday afternoon, Chief of Police Raymond Hayducka said the department is offering a reward for information about the robbery ...

DACA renewal deadline for undocumented residents coming Oct. 5

October 4, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Oct. 5 is the deadline for undocumented immigrants to renew their DACA status, a program which protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

DACA, short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama-era program which allows those who entered the country illegally as children to obtain work authorization and a temporary halt on ...

OPINION

A Call to Action on Healthcare

September 24, 2017

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

On July 29, 2016, one week after my 41st birthday, with no warning, I experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. SCAD is an uncommon heart condition that causes arteries in the heart to tear, leading to a blockage of the artery, and, in my case, a heart attack.  I HAVE NO KNOWN RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE.  

I am a mother of two young ...

DIGroup Expands to Better Serve Healthcare Market

October 16, 2017

New Brunswick, New Jersey –DIGroupArchitecture, LLC, an award-winning, full-service architecture, interior design, and graphic design firm is pleased to announce the addition of several key members to the team, from Principal level leadership to design and construction administration professionals. Together, they enhance the services DIG provides to its Healthcare clients.

Kurt ...

No Government Shutdown for Now, But Medicaid Remains at Risk

October 2, 2017

While federal lawmakers avoided a government shutdown this fall, the next budget battle is just months away. Because Congress approved only a short-term fix, leaders will need to once again negotiate a spending plan and the debt ceiling.

Despite the recent bipartisan deal, Medicaid remains a primary target for budget cuts.

People with disabilities, advocates, and concerned citizens deserve ...