CEDAR GROVE, NJ – The Cedar Grove Town Council accepted the resignation of Mayor Chiusolo at a special meeting on Friday. The mayor’s resignation comes after an independent investigation indicated he had repeatedly violated Local Government Ethics Laws, the Faulkner Act and several local ordinances.
The mayor released a public statement Friday, stating he was resigning to avoid being distraction to the community. He has served on the Town Council for 19 years.
“It goes without saying that today is a very sad day for Cedar Grove,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Tanella. “Nobody on this council wanted to be here today to take the action that we needed to take, however as elected officials it our job to represent the citizens of Cedar Grove to our fullest ability and to protect their interests. That is the only reason we are here today.”
Tanella recounted how the township had received an anonymous letter in late March, questioning whether the mayor’s involvement in certain township matters was proper because of his ownership interests in a uniform company.
“The allegations in the letter were serious and troubling, thus the majority of the council voted to engage Judge Alexander Carver in order to conduct an independent investigation into the alleged misconduct of the mayor,” Tanella said.
Tanella explained that the Town Council received Carver’s report on Friday afternoon and conducted an Executive Session at Monday’s meeting to discuss Carver’s findings and recommendations.
“Judge Carver interviewed over 28 people including the mayor, myself, my fellow council members, our Township Manager, our Township Attorney, our Chief of Police and our police officers,” Tanella stated. “Judge Carver’s findings of violations of the law are severe thus the governing body was very concerned about how such violations have exposed the governing body and our township to immeasurable liability.”
“The governing body I feel is in damage control at this time and has been acting swiftly since receiving Judge Carver’s report in order to mitigate the township’s exposure to further liability and to attempt to restore the integrity to this council,” Tanella further stated.
Tanella also noted that the investigation showed that the mayor’s actions have created division within the police department. He said the Council is very concerned about how the mayor’s conduct throughout his tenure may have harmfully impacted the police department.
“It is critical to this governing body that our officers of every rank and file clearly understand that they have the full support of the governing body and the residents. Anything less will not be tolerated by this governing body. It is for all these reasons that the council unanimously adopted a resolution at Monday night’s meeting requesting the immediate resignation of the mayor,” Tanella explained. “On the advice of counsel the governing body had been advised that the mayor’s immediate resignation will mitigate the governing body and the township’s potential to further exposure to liability including, but not limited to numerous employment law claims. As a result of receiving the mayor’s resignation the governing body is going to hold off on taking any further action at this time involving this matter.”
Tanella emphasized that the mayor was an active participant in the investigation and that it was not a “witch hunt” in any way.
“The mayor had every opportunity to provide the judge with information reputing the allegations in the anonymous letter. Until two hours ago in his public statement, he decided to do nothing,” Tanella said. “Any insinuation that the mayor has been denied due process is completely false and unwarranted. The mayor also alluded to the investigation being a witch hunt. Anybody who looks at the letter and reads that investigation will conclude it’s anything but that.”
“The last thing I want to address is any allegations or any insinuations that our manager had anything to do with anything,” Tanella stated. If you read the public statement it really makes me upset and I’m really disturbed how the mayor tired to bring our manager into this investigation. Our manager has been with us over 20 years. His credentials are beyond reproach.”