Monday, December 13, 2010

The Smoking Gun

On May 19, 2008, I wrote a memorandum to Mr. David Ridolfino expressing my concerns about money being stolen from the VCCA. It appears as though Craig Difiore, James Casserly, and Ron Parke, abused their postions in the VCCA to steal money that was supposed to be used to help crime victims. Immediately below are copies of my memo and the response I received from Mr. Ridolfino.


http://www.scribd.com/doc/45176312/Werner-Attachment-1


http://www.scribd.com/doc/45213066/Werner-Attachment-2

Less than two months after submitting this memorandum I was fired. In the two years since was fired James Casserly and Craig Difiore are still employed at that agency (now the "VCCO")
and Ron Parke is retired and enjoying his pension and free health care for life. James Casserly is in charge of the VCCO's finances. All three are politically connected. James Casserly is a Jersey City Democrat (friend of Assemblyman Joe Cryan). Craig Difiore is a friend of former Senate President and Acting Govenor Donald Difrancesco. Ron Parke is a Union County Republican.

The VCCO is now part of the Department of Law and Public Safety. The corruption at the VCCO has been covered up - and continues to be covered up - by New Jersey State law enforcement, i.e. the Office of the Attorney General.

The public deserves to know what has been going on here. The Office of the Attorney General cannot invesigate itself. It is time for an audit by an independent accounting firm and for a special prosecutor be appointed to determine if charges need to be brought. Setting up the internal computer system to "fail to capture" information on catastrophic injury cases is an obvious attempt to hide something. This one act alone represents the potential to embezzle millions of dollars over ten years.

It is time for the Christie administration to put up or shut up on corruption. If they continue to cover up this scandel they will be sending a clear message to all state goverment employees: Be like David Ridolfino and keep your head low, eyes downcast, and cover your ears to corruption and you can keep your cushy job with its great pension and benefits. On the other hand, if you blow the whistle on corruption the Office of the Attorney General will use the tools of law enforcement to punish you.

There is no place like the Soprano State (except maybe the old Soviet Union).


Copyright 2010 Edward Werner all rights resrved

Friday, January 8, 2010

Show Me The Money !

On December 22, 2009, the attached Complaint and Brief (Superior Court of New Jersey Mercer County Court of Equity L-23-10) were filed in Mercer County Superior Court. The State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety has diverted approximately FIVE AND ONE HALF MILLION DOLLARS ($5,500,000) that may only be spent to compensate crime victims through the Victims of Crime Compensation Office.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/24913322/Complaint-122209

www.scribd.com/doc/24930376/Brief-122209


The Crime Victims Compensation Office is a text book example of good intentions abused by government corruption. The agency is supposed to compensate innocent victims of violent crime for the resultant costs. Unfortunately, the VCCO has been corrupt for many years. In 2005, my predecessor was asked to resign because he was caught using state government employees for his private entity; one in-house lawyer -the sister-in-law of Senator Robert Singer (R) Ocean, Burlington, and Monmouth - had to be fired for falsifying time sheets; the other in-house lawyer was fired for running a house closing business out of the VCCO office; since 2000 the agency had a no-bid construction contract scheme for which their internal computer system has no records; and there were three politically appointed Board Members who received six figure salaries for doing very little work. The agency has been in existence since 1978 and it has never been audited to determine where they are spending the money.

Now it appears the Department of Law and Public Safety has diverted $5,500,000 while making up excuses to deny victims. Diverting that money is more cold hearted than many of the crimes from which the victims originally suffered because they are now being revictimized by law enforcement !

Some say, the government will always find a way to take the money, so why fight it? Why rock the boat? This corruption must be fought .

First and foremost, it must be fought because innocent victims of rapes, muggings, shootings, and murders are suffering without anywhere else to turn;

It must be fought because the government has no right to pilfer funds from crime victims;

It must be fought becuase law enforcement can never be permitted to do the dirty work for political hacks - when the police break the law there is no law;

It must be fought because crime victims - like many other people dependant on government assistance - need and deserve this help, but they do not have the finances to make campaign contributions or hire lobbyists in the halls of power to influence politicians;

It must be fought to challenge to public officials who see public funds as a source of cash for themselves;

It must be fought because this sort of corruption allows others to ridicule New Jersey as "The Soprano State";

It must be fought as an example to the many State Government employees who would come forward to report corruption if they thought it would do any good; and

It must be fought because it is wrong.

If you believe the government should be held accountable then please do something to help. Please contact public officials and tell them the government must account for these funds. The new administartion seems to be sincerely concerned with changing the way things are done in Trenton.

Their response to this lawsuit will provide them with an excellent opportunity to prove it.

Copyright Edward G. Werner, 2010, all rights reserved

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Jersey State Ethics Commission - the Ultimate Hypocrisy

On June 21, 2009 I sent a correspondence to the New Jersey State Ethics Commission. (Please see my earlier blog entry). Attached is a copy of their response.

wiechnik_letter_8_24_09.pdf

In New Jersey, we expect state government bureaucrats to cover their asses at the expense of the public, but the State Ethics Commission should have some shame.

The New Jersey State Ethics Commission is the most vivid example of hypocrisy yet. Even the name is misleading. The attached letter purports to be on behalf of the Ethics Commission, but that is not so. The Ethics Commission is nine individuals who only hear news from one source; Kathleen C. Wiechnik, Esq. Ms. Weichnik is the Executive Director of the agency. She does not actually serve on the Commission. She is in charge of the office and she prepares the agenda for the Ethics Commission’s bimonthly meetings. In short, Ms. Wiechnik decides what information is presented to the Ethics Commission.

In my June 21, 2009 letter, I described what by any reasonable standard is an abuse of office by Mr. Jeffrey Stooleman. Mr. Stooleman – you can’t make this up – is in charge of Compliance at the Ethics Commission. His abuses are explained in the June 21, 2009 blog entry, but to summarize, he had an agenda to concoct an excuse to fire me. The Ethics Commission forced my predecessor, Richard Pompelio, out of his job, and they were now trying to do the same thing to me. Stooleman tried as hard as he could to come up with some violation, no matter how trivial, and over and over again he found I was honest and ethical.

But he had to keep trying. Mr. Stooleman is the longtime friend of Mr. Jacob Toporek, who is very well connected politically. Mr. Toporek filed many complaints against me and not one led to any finding of unethical conduct. In Mr. Stooleman, Toporek had the perfect foil. There is no tactic too cheap for Mr. Stooleman. He stooped to using a forged letter to try to soolicit a complaint against me. He received regular reports from a henchman within the agency. He questioned over thirty people for over three years. He even subpoenaed my computer hard drive. What did he find? He found I ran the agency effectively with no ethical lapses. This represents an abuse of authority not just because Mr. Stooleman used his office for political assassination, but because resources that could have been used to investigate true ethics violations were wasted. New Jersey is the laughing stock of the nation because of our corrupt government, and the Ethics Commission Compliance Director wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, to investigate me for three years. According to Ms. Wiechnik, this is “established practice and sound investigative procedure”.

The State Ethics Commission is charged with “enforcing the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law”. www.state.nj.us/ethics/ That makes it the perfect tool for political assassination. A political hack, like Mr. Stoolemen, investigates someone until he finds some technicality to use against him. Stooleman is free to harass anyone he wants because his boss will not permit allegations of his wrongdoing to be presented to the Ethics Commission.

Ironically, Ms. Wiechnik does not seem to notice the obvious conflict of interest she had. She decided whether to present this issue to the Ethics Commission. Clearly she has an interest in her own decision because she would risk an unfavorable reflection on herself if Mr. Stooleman’s abuses were investigated by a legitimate authority. If Ms. Wiechnik wanted to legitimately withhold this issue from the Ethics Commission, the ethical thing to do would have been to refer that decision to an independent entity such as an administrative law judge. Of course, the right thing to do would have been to disclose Mr. Stooleman’s conduct to the Ethics Commission and let them investigate it.

Ms. Wiechnik ridiculed my request for an accounting. She writes, “You have indicated the Commission owes you an accounting of the resources utilized in connection with its investigation. I am unaware of any statutory or regulatory authority for your request.” Ms. Wiechnik needed to look no further than the State Ethics Commission’s website. Had she checked she would would have found under the “Procedures” section it states: “The Commission has the power to undertake investigations and hold hearings regarding alleged violations of the Conflicts Law. The Commission also issues advisory opinions concerning whether a given set of facts and circumstances would in the Commission's opinion constitute possible violations of the Conflicts Law or any code, rules or regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.”

If we were to take Ms. Wiechnik’s letter seriously, we would wonder how she could possibly be unaware her agency has the authority to determine if Mr. Stooleman wasted three years’ time and untold amounts of money to conduct a sham investigation and whether the facts of this case represent a conflict of interest. Of course, Ms. Wiechnik is not to be taken seriously. She is content to take paychecks in return for covering up corruption.

In the end, this is just one more sad example of how far corruption has gone in this state government, and one more sad example of why it will continue for a long time to come.

Copyright 2009, Edward G. Werner, all rights reserved

Monday, September 7, 2009

National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims

September 25, 2009 is National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

This year, please take a few minutes to consider the cost each of us pays every day for our society's collective failure to address violence and what we can do to stop it.

Forty-one years ago, Senator Robert F. Kennedy addressed the nation on the Mindless Menace of Violence.

Robert F. Kennedy speech ~ Mindless Menace of V...


These words, especially prescient immediately following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are as true and important today as they were on April 5, 1968. That is both a testament to the intelligence, compassion, and eloquence of Senator Kennedy, and a sad commentary on our society. Let this year's Day of Remembrance be both a solemn time for reflection and an inspiring time for action.

Please take the time on September 25th for a moment of silence to remember those who have fallen and then consider doing something affirmative to stop the violence. No means is too small to contribute to this great end. It may be something as simple e-mailing your representatives asking what they are doing to stop the violence; calling someone you know who has lost a loved one, just to let them know the one they lost is not forgotten; or contacting groups that are combating violence in society and volunteering to help in the effort.

When we make time to remember our loved ones and take the initiative to make lasting changes in their memories, they will know it. Each of them will look down upon us with joy, and their presence here on earth will never perish.

Edward G. Werner

Copyright 2009, all rights reserved

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Privilege is All Theirs

In the sixties they had a saying, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” When it comes to fighting corruption in the Garden State, the New Jersey Inspector General is boldly part of the problem. The Inspector General collaborated with the Attorney General to contrive an alibi to fire me. The real reason they had to fire me is because I am honest. In our corrupt state, that would be just one more ugly example of why the public is disgusted with the government. What makes this so hideous is the price for this hypocrisy has been foisted upon the most vulnerable citizens: innocent victims of violent crime.

As written in the previous blog entry, the Attorney General has illegally deprived thousands of innocent victims of over seven million dollars ($7,000,000) of services. While the Inspector General enjoys her big salary and benefits, rape victims go without counseling, shooting victims with no insurance are bankrupted by medical bills, parents of murdered children are dunned by funeral directors for burial costs they cannot pay, and victims of domestic violence are unnecessarily trapped in dangerous surroundings.

To digress, the VCCA processes thousands of claims each year. With a full-time staff of only 38 people, for the first eleven months of State fiscal year 2008, the VCCA received 3824 new claims. During that same time period, 2160 claims were deemed eligible for compensation and paid, 224 were deemed eligible with no compensable losses, 434 were deemed ineligible, 785 closed for administrative reasons. The people who work at the VCCA are diligent and professional in every way. Most of them have worked there for ten years or longer. They have both a tremendous amount of knowledge and a sincere desire to serve the people who come there for help. Most people in New Jersey have never heard of the VCCA because it is not an agency that advertises. It is well known to law enforcement agencies, medical professionals, and funeral directors – they are the people who most often refer people to the VCCA. I have found that once people understand what the VCCA does, they universally like it.

The VCCA costs taxpayers virtually nothing. During the years I headed the agency, we paid approximately $13,000,000 in benefits to victims per year, with administrative costs of approximately $2,500,000. Our revenue comes almost exclusively from criminal defendants. Each year we received approximately $7,000,000 from fees charged to guilty defendants in the various courts throughout the state, approximately $2,500,000 from fees charged to inmates at the commissaries in the prisons and jails, approximately $5,000,000 from a federal grant - money is derived from criminals in the federal system – and approximately $500,000 from restitution paid to the agency by criminals. Tax revenue does not even cover the cost of administering the office, and in return, every year thousands of citizens injured by violent crime get the help they need as a consequence of that crime.

In January 2008, I was informed by my supervisor in the Department of Treasury, David Ridolfino, the Inspector General was going to be investigating us. I looked upon this as an opportunity to display the good work we were doing and to seek constructive criticism. After an initial meeting with their investigators, I invited them to our weekly Supervisor meetings. The claims were processed by a team of investigators who report to a Supervisor. Each Supervisor had at least ten years of experience, so they were each well versed in the issues that arose and how we responded to them. As they were reviewing the claims, they set aside any one for which they were uncertain as to whether the victim’s claim should be paid. Each Tuesday, we met in the agency’s conference room where we went over the claims and the issues. A debate ensued at which everyone was free to voice their opinions about whether the claim should be paid. Sometimes the debates got spirited, and often there was a compromise reached before the decision was final. In every case there was serious consideration of the needs of the victim and our ability to meet those in keeping with the spirit and letter of the law. The Inspector General’s investigators and her lawyers sat in on these meetings for approximately six months. At no time did any of them approach me with any negative comments as to what we were doing.

It was clear to me in speaking to them that they had absolutely no background in this area and were ignorant of the agency and its governing statute and administrative code. If they had checked, they would have discovered the governing statute and administrative code are filled with qualifying language, giving the agency leniency to meet its goal – i.e. to assist innocent victims of violent crime who cooperate with law enforcement and have no money to pay for necessary services. This is the clear sentiment of the statute and administrative code and they have been so interpreted by the State Supreme Court.

In spite of the fact that the Inspector General had not completed her investigation, she responded to a request from the Attorney General for a letter that made it sound like she had found some reason for the Attorney General to fire me. She not only wrote the letter to the Attorney General, she published it on her website, where it is still on display. The letter, to which I have never been given an opportunity to respond, is meritless for several reasons. I was in charge of that agency for two and one half years. The letter refers to findings from a five year period. It never mentions me by name and never identifies any finding to have taken place during the time I was in charge. I had the opportunity to meet with the Inspector General and her staff in August, 2008. At that meeting, recorded on CD, it is painfully obvious the Inspector General was clueless. All allegations of wrongdoing in her letter are either referring to the time when the agency was under the supervision of my predecessor, or are the product of her ignorance as to the New Jersey State Constitution, statute, administrative code, and controlling legal precedents. Had the Attorney General been acting in good faith, she would have tried to determine if there was any validity to the allegations. Instead, she got the letter and made it her excuse to fire me in the press the following day.

Werner Attachment 9


It is helpful to digress and consider just what the Inspector General is supposed to be doing. The Office of the New Jersey Inspector General was created by Acting Governor Codey via Executive Order #7 on November 29, 2004. Its mission- as if written by George Orwell- is to “guard against extravagance, waste or fiscal mismanagement in the administration of any state appropriations”. Paragraph 10 of Acting Governor Codey’s Order compels the Inspector General to provide periodic reports to the Governor and issue a public annual report to the Governor and the Legislature.

Several weeks ago I made an Open Public Records Act request for any reports issued by the Inspector General regarding the investigation of the Victims of Crime Compensation Agency and the annual reports for state fiscal years 2008 and 2009. I received a response, attached below:

I G No Reports Letter

This response, or lack thereof, raises several questions. First, how can an agency that is supposed to be investigating mismanagement be so mismanaged that it fails to issue an annual report for fiscal years 2008 and 2009? The state fiscal year ends June 30th every year, that means the Inspector General has failed to report her activities to the public since June 30, 2007 – more than two years ago! Second, with all of the corruption in the New Jersey state government, how can the Inspector General justify spending so much of her resources investigating one agency like the VCCO? The Inspector General has had a team of lawyers and investigators culling though every file and interrogating every person who works at that agency for almost two years! Resources that could have been used to root out corruption were dedicated to conjuring an excuse to fire me, and she still cannot come up with one! Third, if the Inspector General’s investigation was so preliminary that she still had over one year to go, then why did the Attorney General use that letter to fire me without so much as getting my side of the story? And finally, if the Inspector General is aserting her privilege to deny a open public records act request for the results of a pending investigation, then why does she continue to publish the preliminary findings - many of which she now knows to be wrong - on her website?

The truth of the matter is this: The Inspector General has not produced an annual report in two years and has not produced any report about the investigation of the Crime Victims Compensation Agency because she cannot admit she has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to do nothing more than drum up some phony excuse to fire me. The Inspector General has abused her authority to the extent that she cannot even produce an annual report. Apparently her agency has been so obsessed with the VCCA that she has done nothing in the interim to find any waste any place else in the government.

The Inspector General has done one thing for corruption: She has sacrificed her responsibility at the altar of public corruption. By collaborating with the Attorney General in this endeavor she has contributed to the pain and suffering of crime victims throughout New Jersey. A majority of these victims are women; victims of rape who cannot get therapy and victims of domestic violence who cannot escape their surroundings. They are women who do not have nice salaries and nice offices like the Attorney General and the Inspector General. She has also made it easy for the corrupt people within government to continue their crimes unabated by the agency that is supposed stop it. Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper is supposed to part of the solution to waste and fraud, but instead, she is a big part of the problem.

Edward Werner

Copyright (c) 2009, all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anne Milgram; Bully and Criminal

Attorney General Anne Milgram has illegally deprived innocent victims of violent crime of over SIX MILLION DOLLARS ($6,000,000). According to newly acquired information from the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, for State Fiscal Year 2009 - i.e. from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 - the New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Office has stolen over Six Million Dollars from innocent victims of violent crime.

Bully:

Below is a chart comparing the volume of work produced by that agency for two years while I was Director versus the year since Attorney General Anne Milgram fired me.

VCCO: SFY 07, SFY 08, SFY 09

The above figures illustrate what everyone who is familiar with the VCCO knows, Anne Milgram has dismantled an agency at the expense of innocent victims of violent crime. The people who work at the VCCO have been ordered to conjure any excuse to deny claims. They have gone so far as to review files of claims that were being paid and have informed victims they would cease coverage. This has been especially cruel to victims of sexual assault. In some cases victims have undergone therapy only to open up wounds and then have been told they waited too long to report the rape.

One reason the Attorney General can do this without fear of retribution is she controls all of the grant money that is the lifeblood of many nonprofit organizations that serve crime victims. She is also the chief law enforcement officer in the state, which means she has power over every victim/witness advocate in every prosecutor’s office. Simply put, virtually everyone who works in this field in New Jersey has to be on the good side of the Attorney General or she can fire you or deprive you of needed grant money. Earlier this year she announced all of the nonprofit service providers who would receive victim assistance grants. She disseminated $2,100,000 to a variety of service providers, mostly so they can provide services to victims of domestic violence and rape. She failed to announce at that time that she was also in the process of cutting over $7,000,000 of funds to victims that are supposed to be disseminated by the VCCO. All over the state service providers and victim advocates have gotten used to the idea that the VCCO has been shut down. They know from painful experience that deserving victims have been cruelly denied the funds they need to try to put their lives back together. They did not have any idea of the scope of this deprivation until this writing, but they still will not have any ability to do anything about it because they cannot afford to offend the Attorney General.
To illustrate further, below is a chart showing how some victims that have been revictimized by the Attorney General:

Claims 02

No matter how you look at the numbers, there is only one conclusion: The Attorney General has dismantled the only agency that was serving victims. For the past year the VCCO has been an abject failure. The people who work at the VCCO have been instructed to use any excuse they can conjure to deny claims. That means rape victims are not receiving counseling. Victims of domestic violence are denied the opportunity to leave their surroundings. Parents of murdered children do not have enough money to pay for funerals. Victims of drunk drivers have been denied medical treatment. The final, most outlandish cruelty, the VCCO has deliberately denied the claims of guardians of innocent children that have been sexually molested. In the mind of the Attorney General, the best people to cheat are the ones least able to fight back, in this instance, innocent children who need medical attention after being sexually assaulted. It is almost too mean to imagine, but the VCCO has decided to save money by reducing the payments for victims of child molesters by 76%!

If this was only a matter of the Attorney General deciding to reallocate resources to other, politically powerful entities, it would still be an outrage. Politically speaking, it is easy to pick on crime victims because most of them are poor. Even if they have some resources, they are too devastated from being raped, shot, mugged or overcoming the loss of a child to take on a political fight against the Attorney General.

Criminal:

The VCCO operates almost independently of state tax dollars. In most years, the State of New Jersey taxpayers support the VCCO with less than $1,000,000. It costs approximately $2,500,000 per year to administer the office, so in the end, the taxpayers are not even paying the salaries of the people who work there.

The VCCO receives funds from two types of sources; (1) those within the State of New Jersey and (2) a Federal Government grant. In both cases, the law is absolutely clear. The money must only be used to pay claims of victims. It may not be diverted to other purposes.

(1) New Jersey sources. The two main sources of funds from within New Jersey are (a) assessments paid by defendants in the various courts throughout the state and (b) surcharges paid by inmates in the prisons and jails for purchases at their commissaries. For the State Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2009, the VCCO received over $500,000 per month from the assessments paid by defendants in court. Parenthetically, I am still waiting for a complete Open Public Record Act ("OPRA") production of penalty revenue reports from the Department of Law and Public Safety, but even the incomplete response I have received confirms the agency received approximately $5,954,241. In addition, the agency received a record amount from the commissary surcharge. Again, based on an incomplete OPRA production the final figures are still out, but based on the Department of Law and Public Safety’s production, the prison commissary surcharge yielded approximately $2,698,936. In addition, the agency received restitution from criminals in the amount of $509,290 (source : Victims of Crime Compensation Office Restitution/Subrogation Report) . That is a total in New Jersey State revenue of $9,162,467.

That figure does not include any state taxpayer money! Under statute NJSA 2C:43-3.1 (6)(a) “The Victims of Crime Compensation [Office] Account shall be a separate, nonlapsing, revolving account that shall be administered by the Victims of Crime Compensation [Office]. All moneys deposited in that Account shall be used in satisfying claims pursuant to the provisions of the ‘Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971’”. The statute that directs the collection of funds for the VCCO is clear – the money collected for the VCCO must be spent only on claims from victims to that agency and its related administrative costs. It is illegal to divert those collected funds to any other entity.

(2) Federal Government source. Under the Federal Government’s Office of Victims of Crime, VOCA grant program, each state in the union is provided with a yearly grant. As with the New Jersey funds, the Federal Government VOCA grant does not come from taxpayers, it is derived from a fund collected from defendants in the Federal Justice system. For fiscal year 2009, New Jersey was awarded $5,404,000. That figure is based on a simple formula that applies to every state. Each state’s crime victim compensation agency is awarded a federal grant in the amount of 60% of the total state dollars spent. In fiscal year 2007 the New Jersey VCCO spent $9,005,932.71 dollars from New Jersey sources (source United States Office of Victims of Crime http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/fund/cvfa2009.html ). Consequently, the federal grant for fiscal year 2009 is $5,404,000.

Parenthetically, by reducing the amount New Jersey spent on victims this year, the next federal grant will be considerably lower than it has been. To illustrate, if when the figures are calculated for the current fiscal year the New Jersey VCCO spends only $4,000,000 in state source funds, its consequent federal grant will be only $2,400,000. So by failing to pay victims’ claims as they are supposed to, it not only deprives victims today, it will eliminate the recurring revenue stream from the federal grant, necessitating further deprivation to victims.

Just like the state funds, the VOCA grant must be used for payments to victims through the crime victim compensation agency. As plainly stated on the VOCA website, “Every state administers a crime victim compensation program that provides financial assistance to victims of both federal and state crimes. VOCA allows states to use up to 5 percent of crime victim compensation grant funds for administering the crime victim compensation grant program. Any portion of the allowable 5 percent that is not used for administrative purposes must be used for awards of compensation to victims.”source: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/publications/factshts/vococvf/fs_000310.html).

Criminal Law

“NJSA 2C:30-2. Official Misconduct. A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with purpose to obtain a benefit for himself or another or injure to or deprive another of a benefit:(b) He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature in the nature of his office. Official misconduct is a crime of the second degree. If the benefit…deprived or sought to be deprived, is of a value of $200.00 or less, the offense of official misconduct is a crime of the third degree.”

In the case at hand, the Attorney General has deliberately deprived crime victims throughout the state of benefits to which they are entitled in millions of dollars, far exceeding the $200 threshold to establish a crime of the second degree. In New Jersey, there is a presumption of incarceration for crimes of the first and second degree. So, if all works out well, Attorney General Anne Milgram can be found guilty, account for the funds stolen from the victims’ fund, and contribute her own assets in the form a victim’s assessment and her purchases in the prison commissary. All will be right with the world!

One may ask, how could the Attorney General do such a thing when she clearly has no authority to divert these funds and the needs of the innocent victims are so compelling. The answer is twofold. First, the attorney general lacks the life experience to be able to empathize with victims. She has never been interested in victims or the work done at that agency. Crime victims do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance lobbyists in the halls of power, so they are invisible to the corrupt hacks who run this government and Anne Milgram is not about to take the initiative to fight for them.

The second reason is she has to defend herself against my whistleblower lawsuit. She fired me in the press, claiming she had no choice because of the way money was spent under my leadership. It was always a false allegation, but now she needs to try to make it true to defend the lawsuit. That is why the VCCO now denies claims for specious reasons. That is why they call rape victims and tell them they are going to stop paying for therapy while they are in treatment. That is why victims of domestic violence are stuck in their surroundings with no means of escape. That is why cruelties are unnecessarily heaped upon people who have already been through hell. And that is why Anne Milgram must be forced to return the funds to the VCCO and that is why she must have no part of running that agency.

It is sad to acknowledge how corrupt and incompetent New Jersey government is. The people of this state are much better than their government. We have gotten used to public officials getting caught accepting bribes. What makes this case so hideous is that I was honest and was doing what the public wanted: I was ridding waste, fraud, and corruption out of the agency and making sure victims got the help they were supposed to get. Many people have been asking aloud, “why are not more public officials honest?” This case shows why. The New Jersey State Government is so rotten to the core that even the Attorney General is a criminal. The people in positions of power, even those in law enforcement, do not take their obligations as public servants seriously because they believe there is no reward for honest work. Maybe when law enforcement starts obeying the law, some of the other public officials might follow suit.
Edward G. Werner Copyright 2009, all rights reserved

Sunday, June 21, 2009

THE UNETHICAL ETHICS INVESTIGATOR

OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW JERSEY STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

June 21, 2009

Kathleen C. Wiechnik
Executive Director
State of New Jersey
State Ethics Commission
PO Box 082
Trenton, New Jersey 07102

Re: Investigation of Edward Werner
NJ Victims of Crime Compensation Board
Commission Case #41-07

Dear Ms. Wiechnik:

Please accept this as the response to your April 25, 2009 correspondence and a request for an investigation of Mr. Jeffrey Stooleman.

As you are aware, I was the Director of the Crime Victims Compensation Agency, in its various incarnations, from December, 2005 until July, 2008. Mr. Stooleman, Investigator for the State Ethics Commission, began investigating me almost immediately upon my arrival as if he had an agenda. Mr. Stooleman was not content to interrogate me repeatedly, he went out of his way to solicit complaints to be used against me.

There are many examples of Mr. Stooleman’s abuse of his authority. He has squandered thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars to concoct a case against me. He continued to harass me even after it would have been obvious to anyone that there was no case to be made. The record proves I was at all times ethical and honest.

Below are just two examples of Mr. Stooleman's abuses:

1. Mr. Stooleman used a forgery in an attempt to solicit a complaint against me. One of the VCCA’s Supervisors of Investigators was ordered by Mr. Stooleman to report to Trenton for interrogation at Mr. Stooleman’s office. The Supervisor was given no reason. When he arrived, Mr. Stooleman advised him he would be under oath. He then said “You were asked to come here to answer questions about your letter.” When the Supervisor responded that he did not know to what letter Stooleman was referring, Stooleman showed him a letter listing a series of complaints against me. The Supervisor immediately disavowed the letter, said his signature was a forgery, and that he had never seen it before. He said he had no intention of making a complaint against me. Mr. Stooleman completely disregarded this comment and proceeded to grill him anyway. Mr. Stooleman went down the list of complaints to try to get the Supervisor to parrot the words. The Supervisor, much to his credit, was able to withstand this intimidation.

This conduct is troubling for many reasons. First, any Investigator who calls a witness to discuss a letter should cease the interrogation immediately upon learning it is a forgery. The next course of action should be to try to determine the source of the forgery. After all, any Investigator deceived this way has an obligation to try to discover who abused his office by sending in a forged letter. Instead, Mr. Stooleman chose to use the forged letter as a tool to solicit complaints against me.

I was taken aback by your response at the April hearing when I brought this up. You may remember you interjected that you found this practice acceptable because your Ethics Commission accepts anonymous complaints. You said Mr. Stooleman was justified in his method because once he was informed the letter was a forgery he used it as though it was an anonymous letter. I find it incredible that the State Ethics Commission does not distinguish between anonymous complaints and blatant forgeries. Is not forgery, a crime in every state in the union, considered unethical by the Ethics Commitee?

Your position on this issue is, to say the least, disconcerting. To say the most, it is criminal. Under NJSA 2C:30-2, it is a crime for a public servant to attempt to injure another by knowingly abusing his authority. Mr. Stooleman not only violated the spirit of his office – he is guilty of the crime of Official Misconduct.

2. A second example of Mr. Stooleman’s unethical conduct was his use of the Agency’s Director of Internal Controls to solicit complaints. To digress, while Director of the agency I requested an audit (the agency has never had a true audit in all of its thirty years). My chief concern was that three people - one being the Internal Controls Director - had control over one aspect of the agency. They created a system whereby they could submit a check request to the Department of Law and Public Safety for construction work allegedly done on homes of disabled crime victims. All “work” was given to construction firms on a no-bid basis. They then set up the internal case processing system to “fail to capture” any information on those cases. They then went even further. They established a policy of refusing to seek restitution from criminal defendants for these costs. This is the only type of expense for which the VCCA did not seek restitution from criminals.

I was disturbed to learn that on a regular basis, perhaps a daily basis, that extended over months, this same Internal Controls Director was feeding records to Stooleman. The Internal Controls Director wanted me removed because I am honest. Mr. Stooleman sifted through these records to conjure a case aginst me, even though it should have been very clear to him that the Internal Controls Director was using the Ethics Commission for his personal motives. I raised this issue in a conference call to Mr. Stooleman. I had two people from the Department of Treasury on the conference call. My Supervisor, David Ridolfino, and the Ethics Officer, Robert Smartt were present for the conference call. Mr. Stooleman was adamant that the Internal Controls Director was “very helpful” in providing him with agency records. I made it very clear to Mr. Stooleman that it appeared an internal system at the VCCA had been created for embezzlement and the only reason the Director of Internal Controls was trying so hard to find any excuse to fire me was because I was honest. Those three people working at the VCCA needed a Director who was either corrupt or disinterested in the daily working of the agency. I told Mr. Stooleman that continuing to harass me with interrogations was nothing more than doing the bidding for these dishonest people and he was abusing his office in that he was making it more likely that funds would be embezzled. He again said he was going to continue to interrogate me on any complaint he received and he would welcome any complaint against me.

Once again, this is not just an abuse of authority, it is a violation of the crime of Official Misconduct (NJSA 2C:30-2).


Mr. Stooleman has not only violated the criminal law in his abuse of authority, he never should have accepted this assignment in the first place because of his relationship with one Mr. Jacob Toporek. Mr. Stooleman is an old friend of Mr. Jacob Toporek. Mr. Toporek was a member of the VCCA under its Board structure. Mr. Toporek had been the Chairman of the agency while the no-bid construction contract scheme was added. Mr. Stooleman should have recused himself. Mr. Stooleman has confirmed that Mr. Toporek was one of the people from whom he was accepting complaints about me. He should have recused himslf and permitted these complanits to be assigned to someone who had no conflicts. Instead, he accepted complaint after complaint and did everything possible to find any basis to attack me.

In your letter you state, “The [Ethics] Commission had received several letters indicating that Mr. Werner was providing preferential treatment to former VCCB Chair Richard Pompelio
…the [Ethics] Commission determined… there were indications that Werner violated sections 23(e)(7) of the Conflicts Law and NJAC 19:61-7.4.” I resent this. I did nothing wrong.
Mr. Stooleman has gone out of his way to spend hours and hours of his time to dig up anything he could call a violation and this is vague accusation is all he could muster. You may be aware that in addition to the above, the Ethics Commission has subpoenaed my computer hard drive. That has everything I did on the job for two and one half years. After three years of investigations, repeated interrogations of agency personnel and myself, and an examination of my hard drive, what did the Ethics Commission uncover?

It is time for the Ethics Commission to have this abuse investigated and have Mr. Stooleman referred to the criminal authorities for indictment. If the Ethics Commission casually ignores this matter, it will be announcing to everyone that it is amenable to unethical people who use it for political vendettas. It is impossible for the Ethics Commission to perform its function if it is not above the appearance of impropriety.

It bears mentioning that the people who were directing Mr. Stooleman to try to concoct a case against me may have been responsible for embezzling substantial amounts of money that was supposed to be used to pay for medical care for mugging victims and rape victims, funeral expenses for parents of murdered children, relocation for victims of domestic violence, etc. For many years while that agency received over ten million dollars per year, the people in charge had the freedom to write checks for themselves. It is especially galling that during those years the VCCB had a reputation of unreasonably delaying and denying legitimate victims’ claims.
Mr. Stooleman not only abused his authority in his methods, he may have lent aid and comfort to those who are so morally bankrupt they would deprive innocent victims of violent crime of necessary services just to steal money for themselves. I hope you agree, this situation must be further investigated.

Finally, I deserve a true accounting. As stated above, with years of investigations, repeated interrogations, examination of my hard drive, what was uncovered? After being publicly called to the Ethics Commission’s Offices, the Ethics Commission owes me a public acknowledgement of the extent of its investigation in terms of time and dollars and a report on what was uncovered – that I served the State of New Jersey with the utmost integrity, honestly working diligently to keep that agency serving victims, but also rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse. It is rare for any Director of a New Jersey State agency to speak out against corruption. I was the only Agency Director to testify for the passage of legislation that rid his or her agency of political patronage. I advocated the passage of legislation that saved over $400,000 in annual waste that had been used for patronage jobs and I requested an audit of a system that appears designed for embezzlement. If you refuse to have Mr. Stooleman investigated for his various abuses in this matter, you will be announcing that the New Jersey State Ethics Commission is available for corruption.

Please put this matter on the agenda for public discussion for your next meeting and confirm that you have done so. You may reach me at (609) 532-4589.

Respectfully submitted,


Edward G. Werner



Copyright (c) 2009, Edward Werner, all rights reserved