PARSIPPANY — According to Parsippany's Township Attorney, James Lott, the motion made at Tuesday night's Council meeting was irregular. The motion in question was one that Councilman Michael dePierro made at the meeting to direct payment of $405,000 to settle the outstanding lawsuits against the Township to former Police Captain, James Carifi. The Carifi lawsuits have been the subject of outstanding controversary for years.
The motion read by Councilman dePierro stated, “I am making a motion to direct the Mayor to pay retired Captain James Carifi, the accrued time of $405,000 of unused sick, vacation, comp time and personal days worth $368,482.02 owed to him in full, plus interest, to date. These monies had already been set aside by the township when Mr. Carifi retired. Therefore, there was no hardship or additional costs to the residents of Parsippany. I’m proposing at the payments shall be made in three equal payments with interest to date, with each disbursement. The first payment shall be made within a week from the date of this Council direction with the following two on the anniversary, so we’re not giving him all the money at once. We’re given to him one third of it each year for three years with adjusted interest at the time of payment. So therefore I’m requesting that The Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills wishes to conduct and ministerial function of compensating Mr. Carifi for his unused time without any admission of liability or statement as to the position of either party regarding Mr. Carifi’s separation from employment. If it’s accepted by former Officer Carifi, this payment will resolve all claims Mr. Carifi has to accrued days of unused sick, vacation, comp time and personal days from the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills.”
The motion passed with three yes votes made by Councilman dePierro, Councilwoman Gragnani and Councilwoman McCarthy. Council President Paul Carifi Jr recused himself. Councilwoman Petersen abstained due to the objection of the township attorney.
Township Attorney James Lott objected to the motion stating “Mr. Council President, due to the nature of the motion, which I think is procedurally irregular, I would ask that we go into closed session to discuss this. We’re currently in litigation with Mr. Carifi. I also don’t believe it’s appropriate to appropriate any money pursuant to a resolution. I think that has to be reduced in writing of higher resolution.”
Mr. Lott voiced objection and asked that the record represent his objection. He asked that the clerk note that this vote on the motion was against his advice.
Councilman Michael dePierro and Councilwoman Loretta Gragnani after the meeting stated “The funds necessary to make this contractually-obligated payment to the officer have been in escrow for the past six years, since he filed for retirement. No new money will be coming from the township budget or Parsippany taxpayers to meet this contractual obligation, and it resolves all issues regarding the officer’s retirement from the township. Since 1999, Parsippany Township has implemented changes to restrict the amount of money retiring employees can expect to collect for unused sick, vacation and personal time. This officer was employed under a contract that predated those restrictions.”
Mayor Michael Soriano sent the following statement to TAPinto Parsippany, “As legal counsel advised during the meeting, the oral motion made by Councilman DePierro did not conform to legal requirements applicable to local government. While I understand the desire to resolve matters started by the prior administration, that never should have occurred in the first place, since taking office I have endeavored to ensure that we do everything by the book. That will not change irrespective of my thoughts on whether a resolution should pass or fail. Thus, I am going to wait to make any formal statement regarding the substance of Councilman DePierro’s resolution until after legal counsel has guided the council to make sure they comply with the law.”