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Legislative ethics panel dismisses 9 of 11 complaints
A legislative ethics panel today dismissed complaints against 9 lawmakers who were among 35 originally faced with charges that they enriched themselves or family members by securing budget appropriations for local projects.
The latest dismissals mean that just two of complaints filed months ago by Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan, a conservative Republican, remain pending before the Joint Committee on Ethical Standards.
One of the two, a complaint against Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), is on hold because he was indicted March 29 on federal charges of bribery, fraud and corruption.
The committee also refused to drop a complaint against Assemblyman Brian Stack (D-Hudson), whose estranged wife received a $100,000 state grant for a day care center she operates. Star-Ledger sources have confirmed that the grant is part of a wide-ranging federal probe of special appropriations obtained by lawmakers for their home districts.
The committee directed legislative counsel Albert Porroni to find out more information about the grant but postponed a decision on whether to launch a formal investigation into the complaint against Stack.
In a 12-0 vote that included three Republican lawmakers, the committee found no basis to pursue further action against the following nine lawmakers, all Democrats, accused by Lonegan: Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny (D-Hudson); Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer); Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), who also is chairman of the Democratic State Committee; Assemblywoman Shiela Oliver (D-Essex); Assemblyman William Payne (D-Essex); Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic); Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson); Assemblyman Craig Stanley (D-Essex) and Assemblyman Alfrede Steele (D-Passaic).
In separate action, the committee dismissed unrelated complaints against two other lawmakers, Assemblyman Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset) and Sen. John Adler (D-Camden).
Contributed by Joe Donohue