Law & Justice

Middlesex Ethics Board Dismisses Complaint Filed Against Its Attorney

ce6358ae64343cd7bd9f_MiddlesexCountyAdminBldgCourtHouse.JPG
ce6358ae64343cd7bd9f_MiddlesexCountyAdminBldgCourtHouse.JPG

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 Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

New Brunswick Civic League Leader Still Looking for New Challenges After 48 Years at Helm

June 16, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After 48 years of leading the charge for change in New Brunswick, Dr. C. Roy Epps can still be found quietly working on weekends in The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick offices.

The tireless commitment of the 77-year-old President and CEO of this non-profit has helped provide residents access to a variety of health, housing and education services over the ...

Couple Netted $8M from Fake Uggs, Designer Bags, Prosecutor Says

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Plainsboro couple could face charges of of selling counterfeit designer shoes and handbags, netting $8 million and sending $3 million to people in China, authorities said today.

Yan Shi, 36, and her husband, Weiping Liu, 40, were arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy to violate the New Jersey Trademark ...

Brookside Pool Club Celebrating 65th Anniversary

MILLTOWN, NJ - The calendar may not officially say summer, but the water is certainly fine at the borough's Brookside Swim Club. Brookside is marking its 65th anniversary this year and the festivities will make a big splash of fun as they do every June, July and August.

Weather dampened the swim club's grand opening weekend. Brookside opens up to its members young and young at heart ...

Applications to Rutgers Jumps Nearly 10 Percent; Increase from Out-of-State Students

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Applications to Rutgers University this year increased 9.4 percent over last year, university President Robert Barchi told the Board of Governors at a meeting this week.

The university received nearly 45,000 applications this year, Barchi said.

That included a 20 percent increase in the number of students from out-side New Jersey applying to Rutgers, the university ...

Watson Coleman Introduces Resolution Acknowledging the Failures of the War on Drugs

June 15, 2018

As the House prepares to vote on more than 20 bills aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic over the next two weeks, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) announced a resolution that seeks parity in the treatment of drug use and addiction and a formal apology for the War on Drugs. H.Res. 933 expresses the sense of Congress that the War on Drugs failed, and calls out the disparate treatment of ...

MCRO Chairwoman Panos Celebrates Re-Election, Promises Party Unity to Defeat Menendez

FORDS, NJ-  Middlesex County Republican Organization (MCRO) Chairwoman Lucille Panos of Old Bridge was re-elected to a second two-year term as that organization's chairwoman.  Also re-elected were Edison chairwoman Sylvia Engel as vice-chair, and South Brunswick chairwoman Antonia Kulberda as secretary.  Rounding out the victors was Harold Kane of Monroe, ...

Franklin Township: Ladies Days Every Tuesday at KPS Garage

Every Tuesday throughout the ​summer, women will receive 10% off all repairs and service at KPS Princeton Garage located at 3860 Route 27 in South Brunswick.

Simply mention this promotion at time of drop-off. 

KPS Princeton Garage can be reached at 732-297-9515 or at kpsprincetonauto@aol.com

Small Business Ownership vs. Entrepreneurship

Written by: Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column, Published on 6/18/2018

Tags: Business, Community, Crowdfunding, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Small Business

Source: So, which are you – a Small Business Owner or an Entrepreneur? We compare the similarities and differences between the two, so you can ...