Public Safety Director Under Fire
Alicea faces allegations of Pension Fraud and Official Misconduct
Angel Alicea is the last man standing. He’s the only director chosen by former Mayor Peter Cammarano who Dawn Zimmer decided to keep on board for her administration.
While others were removed as soon as their replacements were hired, Alicea kept his job and his often illegally parked city vehicle.
Now Zimmer is in the middle of a firestorm regarding Alicea’s job status and allegations of illegal double dipping. Many are also wondering why Zimmer kept him on. More on the politics and personalities that have kept Alicea in City Hall after the jump, but first, the new allegations.
Competello: Is Alicea working the system for his own benefit?
Hoboken Police Lieutenant Mark Competello is Commander of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. For years Competello was a thorn in the side of disgraced former Police Chief Carmen LaBruno, and filed a number of whistle-blower lawsuits during the reign of former Mayor Dave Roberts. Now he’s taking aim at Director Alicea, who he says, “appears to be in violation of state administrative law, pertaining to both his pension and appointment to his current position.”
No response from Zimmer to Competello’s charge
In a three page letter outlining the charges for state Attorney General Paula Dow, Competello runs through the facts of Alicea’s employment with the Union City Police Department, and how his service as Hoboken’s Public Safety Director may conflict with the law.
Competello reported the alleged misconduct to Alicea’s boss (Zimmer) in an internal memo dated April 22, 2010, and “To date, Mayor Zimmer and the City of Hoboken have met this matter with silence.”
“By way of background, Director Alicea was appointed to his position on July 22, 2009 as noted on the City Council Meeting Agenda of this date. At that time Director Alicea was an active sworn law enforcement officer with the Union City Police Department. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:16A-3.1 Appointive/Administrative or Supervisory Position Service), Director Alicea was required to be retired not less than six months in order to legally accept the position of Director of Public Safety.
Additionally, according to the New Jersey Division of Pensions/Police and Fireman’s Retirement System (PFRS) document dated March 8, 2010 it lists Angel Alicea II, of Union City being approved for a Special Retirement effective February 1, 2010. This clearly indicates that Director Alicea is in violation of state administrative and/or pension law and according to the PFRS rules must reenroll in the PFRS, and possibly refund the pension for the improper time he served in a dual capacity as a law enforcement officer with Union City PD (UCPD) and a civilian Director of Public Safety for the City of Hoboken.”
The letter goes on to speculate as to how Alicea may have exploited his employment status. Since I’m not an expert in New Jersey public pension law, Hoboken411 is only reporting on the allegations made by a respected member of the Hoboken PD, not passing judgment.
Competello: Alicea is “Double Dipping”
Competello says, “I find it appalling that Director Alicea would engage in this type of malfeasance, especially in light of all the recent controversy in regards to the fiscal condition of the N.J. State Pension System and exposure of those guilty of “double dipping” in government jobs. It is completely unacceptable and sends the wrong message when a Director of Public Safety is allowed to break the law, either in an administrative or criminal capacity, without impunity.”
Why is Alicea still on the job for Zimmer?
Zimmer’s most rabid supporters had nothing nice to say about Alicea while he was on the Hoboken Housing Authority board, on Cammarano’s council ticket, or named to the former Mayor’s cabinet. As they do with anyone they perceive as standing in their way, they attacked Alicea mercilessly. They’ve gone silent on Alicea since it became clear he wouldn’t be leaving Zimmer’s administration.
Why? Politics and Personalities.
Zimmer and Lenz need Alicea’s votes, police experience
With a special election in for the 4th ward looming in November, Zimmer and her choice for her former council seat – Michael Lenz – have been trying to make nice with long-time political enemies. Alicea served many years on the Hoboken Housing Authority Board and has many friends in the ward. He supported Chris Campos over Zimmer, who returned the favor by orchestrating a last-minute coup to replace Alicea on the HHA board with Hector Claveria.
Alicea then joined Cammarano’s Council-at-Large ticket, and was the only one to make it to the runoff. His consolation prize was the Public Safety Director position. When Cammarano was in office, Zimmer questioned whether Hoboken needed a Public Safety Director at all and called for hearings on all of his directors. When she took office suddenly Director hearings were no longer important, and a Public Safety Director was worth keeping.
- Because if she can’t win Alicea’s votes over, she can at least make sure he’s not working against her, and
- Her husband Stan Grossbard is no fan of Police Chief Anthony Falco.
Grossbard and Zimmer’s history with Chief Falco
The Chief was installed in June 2009 and has received high marks for moving the department forward from the scandals under former Chief LaBruno, but that’s not the history Zimmer and Grossbard are most concerned about.
Grossbard and Zimmer had contact with then-Captain Falco during the unsuccessful investigation of his father’s tragic hit-and-run death on Sinatra Drive. Grossbard has complained about the HPD’s work on the case in general, and about Falco’s role in particular. With Alicea in the Public Safety Director position, Zimmer doesn’t have to deal with Falco directly. She can use Alicea as the “go-between.” Zimmer has no public safety experience, so Alicea can be the one to spend hours explaining what it is the Police and Fire Chiefs are trying to tell her.
How long will Alicea remain on board?
It’s too early to tell how the Competello complaint will effect Alicea’s tenure. It could take months for the Attorney General to investigate the charges. In the meantime Alicea is still in the Zimmer stable as the 4th ward gears up for yet another election. Some say Alicea’s vote-getting power is overdone, pointing to his own unsuccessful race, as well as the fact that his wife Wanda lost her Board of Education seat two years in a row to Kids First candidates. Others note Zimmer just appointed a former Police Chief to be her new Business Administrator. Arch Liston’s experience in Public Safety could make Alicea’s place in the Zimmer Administration redundant, but not before the Fourth Ward election in November.
NOTE: Hoboken411 has no “beef” with Director Alicea, and will be happy to publish his response to these charges, should he choose to provide them. The charges against him come exclusively from Lieutenant Competello. If they are proven true it will be the latest “Do as I say, not as I do” moment from the 10-month old administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer. This article is written to bring you the truth about City Hall others won’t, just as this website has done repeatedly since 2006.