Cedar Grove Town Council Calls for Mayor's Resignation


CEDAR GROVE, NJ – The Cedar Grove Town Council requested the resignation of Mayor Joseph Chiusolo at its staff meeting Monday after the results of an independent investigation indicated he has repeatedly violated Local Government Ethics Laws, the Faulkner Act and several local ordinances. 

The investigation was sparked by an anonymous letter sent to the Town Council in March questioning whether the Mayor’s active involvement in the police department was proper considering his ownership of Turn Out Uniforms, Inc. which provides uniforms and equipment to local law enforcement, fire departments and rescue squads.  In addition, the Council had received new information regarding the extent of the mayor’s involvement in police related issues.  Throughout the course of the investigation, 28 people were interviewed including Chiusolo, Deputy Mayor Peter Tanella, Councilmen Michael Maffucci, E. Romeo Longo and Harry Kumburis, the Township Manager Thomas Tucci, the Township Attorney Joshua Zielinski, the Chief of Police Richard Vanderstreet and 20 police officers. 

According to the report, the investigator concluded that Chiusolo had a conflict of interest on all matters regarding the Police Department, Fire Department and Rescue Squad due to his ownership of Turn Out Uniforms Inc.  The report findings state his failure to recuse himself when these matters were voted on and discussed renders numerous Council decisions voidable as a matter of law and subjects Cedar Grove to immeasurable liability. 

Sign Up for E-News

“In effect, each time the Mayor voted to approve the Annual Budget, he used his position as Councilman to approve and authorize funds that could and would be used to purchase uniforms and equipment at Turn Out, undoubtedly directly benefiting his business,” the report stated. 

In addition, the report found that Chiusolo violated the Faulkner Act by acting in an official capacity on matters in which he had a conflict of interest, by improperly communicating with police officers regarding police business and by boasting of his influence over the Township Manager in hiring, firing and offering promotions.  Due to the council-manager form of government in Cedar Grove, the Mayor and Council are specifically prohibited from having any direct communication with employees regarding their administrative duties.  According to the report, Chiusolo initiated communication in the past with officers who have recently been promoted or who have influence within the police department or the PBA, including calls and texts from his personal cell phone.  Chiusolo repeatedly denied having these conversations in the report.  Other improprieties included allowing “charge accounts” for certain officers and providing discounts of up to 20% to certain officers.

“A noticeable pattern emerged from the information gathered from the Police Department in this investigation as to the amount of the discount offered by Turn Out, to whom the discount was offered and when the discount was offered.  Larger discounts are typically offered by Turn Out to Cedar Grove police officers recently promoted to higher rank, which is typically evident by the items purchased or the requested embroidery, and to those police officers who are otherwise in high positions within the Department,” the report stated.

The report further stated that not only has Chiusolo voted on uniform stipends, but he has also been involved in PBA contract negotiations and improperly communicated with police officers during negotiations; for example it was reported he spoke to police officers and volunteered to get the Council to agree to increased health benefits in exchange for the PBA dropping a request for longevity. In addition, the report found that the Mayor makes regular monetary contributions to the PBA and offers his services at all PBA-sponsored events for the Cedar Grove Police Department. 

“I was shocked and saddened to learn about the actions of the Mayor. The investigator’s report,which is very thorough and detailed, reveals that the Mayor has violated numerous state statues and local ordinances on many occasions throughout his tenure on the Council. Such actions have cast a dark cloud over the governing body,” said Councilman Tanella in a written statement. “These violations of the law are severe. Thus, the governing body is very concerned about how such violations have exposed the Council to potential legal liability. The governing body is in damage control now and must act swiftly in order to mitigate such exposure in order to protect the Township from further exposure to legal liability and to restore the integrity of the Council.”

Tanella further stated that for these reasons, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution at Monday night’s meeting requesting the immediate resignation of the Mayor. In the event the Mayor refuses to voluntarily resign from the council, the resolution also provides that the governing body will hold a special public meeting on Friday, June 24  at 4:30 pm in order to adopt all of the investigator’s recommendations along with any other recommendations the governing body deems appropriate, including, but not limited to, passing a subsequent resolution seeking the mayor’s immediate resignation from the Council.

“It goes without saying that this is a very sad day for Cedar Grove,” Tanella added.  

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove reached out to Chiusolo for a statement, but has not received a response at this writing.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Verona/Cedar Grove

Original Pancake House of West Caldwell Evacuated in Possible Pepper Spray Incident

May 20, 2018

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Original Pancake House in West Caldwell was evacuated early Saturday afternoon due to a possible pepper spray incident that caused ambulances from the West Essex, Verona and Bloomfield First Aid Squads to assist at the scene.

Bianca Pietro, a West Orange mother of two, said she was seated inside the glass atrium on the south side of the building that faces ...

Cedar Grove Police Blotter

May 9, 2018

On May 4, 2018 at 2:58 p.m., Ptl. Raymond Cassella stopped a vehicle for not having an inspection decal and an obstructed windshield. A subsequent investigation led to the arrest of the 28 year old male operator from Paterson for driving with a suspended license and having a suspended registration. His vehicle was impounded and he was released with a summons to appear in municipal court.

Community Sends Thoughts and Prayers to East Brook Middle School, Paramus Strong

May 17, 2018

PARAMUS, NJ – Around 10:30 AM Thursday morning, a bus filled with East Brook Middle School 5th Grade Students was involved in a motor vehicle accident along I-80 in Mount Olive, NJ. The students were enroute to Waterloo Village for a class field trip. It was initially reported that the bus had collided with a dump truck causing the bus to roll into the median and dislodge from its ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, May 21, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness

Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

How to Live Longer and Stay Healthy

Health & Wellness

Wed, May 23, 7:30 PM

Cedar Grove Public Library, Cedar Grove

The Caldwell Railway

Arts & Entertainment

Author Event at Cedar Grove Library

May 16, 2018

Meet Author and Cedar Grove Resident, Lisa Romeo at the Cedar Grove Library on Thursday, May 17 @ 7 pm. as she discusses her new memoir, Starting with Goodbye, which explores grief, love, loss and father/daughter bonds. Come hear about her book, ask questions and enjoy some light refreshments. Books will be available for sale signed by the author.

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

'The Sting' with Harry Connick Jr. Slithers and Shakes at Paper Mill

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and Chicago.  Scott Joplin’s music is intertwined with the show, especially “The ...