Entries in Sussex County NJ (19)


Frankford firehouse fiasco coughs up a candidate

The situation at the Frankford firehouse is shameful.  The guy who runs the Frankford Volunteer Fire Department hasn't fully explained what led to the decisions that ultimately lost his community $360,000. 

This could have been avoided by doing a simple background check.  The contractor could charitably be characterized as a "bad apple" who has had contract compliance issues before.  So why wasn't a background check done on the contractor hired to do the work? 

And why no performance bond?  A performance bond would have protected both the Fire Department and the community it serves.  It would have provided a needed failsafe in the event that this contractor did not perform as promised (which ultimately happened). 

As the New Jersey Herald reported (September 8, 2017):

The community pays for volunteer fire departments through donations and the firefighters themselves -- all volunteers -- pay in their sweat and toil.  It is a difficult and, as has been recently shown, dangerous duty that they freely sign up for.  More care should have been given to the purchase and construction of the new facility in Frankford.  With a bit more transparency, there would have been more community involvement and oversight.  Somebody could have caught this earlier and prevented the current mess.

Instead, the guy in-charge kept his cards too close and there were questions raised about transparency.  And so Frankford is in for a rough time, as the Herald story makes clear:

You might think that such a spectacular screw-up would have led the guy in-charge to offer his resignation or to make some other gesture of taking responsibility.  No, not in this case.

Instead, the guy in charge, Mr. Mike Fox, decided to run a write-in campaign for township committee.  No, we are not kidding.  He even has a campaign Facebook page.

Is it a case of "having screwed up at the volunteer fire department I want to have a chance to move up to bigger things"?  Whatever it is, you got to hand it to this guy, he has some balls.  After a colossal screw-up under his watch, now he wants a promotion.

Well, maybe the people of Frankford will give it to him, but they'd better think long and hard about it first.  We all make mistakes but just because you forgive, you shouldn't forget -- and you most certainly shouldn't reward.


Sex Scandal involving the County Prosecutor's office?

There are many residents of Sussex County who acknowledge that their local newspaper -- the New Jersey Herald -- is too chummy with county insiders on the Freeholder Board, SCMUA, and in county government.  Others disagree, but the Herald has shown a less than even-handed interest in certain stories.

For instance, the Herald has yet to cover the following story.  It concerns a major accusation of wrongdoing in Sussex County.  It appeared last month in The Record of Bergen County, its Passaic County affiliate, the Paterson Press, and on NorthJersey.com -- but not in the Herald.  The Herald must be aware of this, but have been silent on the subject.

Accusations surface in sexual assault case: Was it political pressure or police mishandling?

Abbott Koloff, Staff Writer, @AbbottKoloff Published 5:00 a.m. ET Sept. 29, 2017 | Updated 10:42 a.m. ET Sept. 29, 2017

The woman was getting divorced. The man told her he was in the midst of a breakup.

After a chance meeting over the winter, the two — who had known one another in high school — decided to meet for a drink. It was an opportunity to catch up and commiserate over failed relationships.

But that January night in a Sussex County bar has led to an immensely complicated case peppered with accusations of retaliation, political pressure and mishandling of the case by police.

An investigation, including a review of police and court records as well as interviews by The Record and NorthJersey.com, shows:

  • Sexual assault allegations were brought by the woman to the state police.
  • A trooper filed the charges in a municipal court; they were dismissed the next day in Superior Court, at the behest of the Sussex County prosecutor.
  • The woman, through the police union, claimed she was pressured by the Prosecutor's Office into dropping the charges.
  • The union strongly hinted that prosecutors were motivated by the defendant’s father being a “politically-appointed executive in Morris County.”
  • The Prosecutor's Office denied those accusations, saying that there wasn't enough evidence to pursue the case and suggesting that state police overstepped their authority in bringing the charges.

As a result of the tangled mess,17 state troopers have been reassigned; a labor grievance has been brought against state police officials; and the Sussex County Prosecutor this week released a detailed, two-page statement defending the office's handling of the case.

New Jersey State Police (Photo: File / NorthJersey.com)

Mike Bukosky, a police union attorney, said in an email that the troopers "used their training and experience to act 100 percent in good faith to assist and protect the parties involved."

Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch has denied that any members of his staff acted improperly or for "any alternative motive,"  and that they all sought “solely to uphold the law,” and always take into account "victims’ rights." He specified that none of his employees knew the defendant "or anyone in his family."

Sex assault alleged

The saga began when a woman, who The Record and Northjersey.com is not identifying, walked into the Sussex Station of the state police in Frankford on Jan. 31. Her claim: she was sexually assaulted nine days earlier in the parking lot of Boomer's Place, a bar in Hampton. 

A week later, after giving his own statement to police, the man she accused was arrested and charged with second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.

Ian M. Schweizer, 35, spent one night in the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility in Newton before records show the charges were dismissed and he was released.

Records also show he was living at the same Newton address as his father — Glenn Schweizer, who recently retired as the executive director of the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority.

The case hinged on what appear to be two very different statements about what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 22 — each version laid out in affidavits signed by a state trooper, Justin DeLorenzo.

Ian M. Schweizer spent one night in the jail in Sussex County before charges against him were dismissed (Photo: Sussex County Sheriff's Office)

Schweizer told police that he and the woman were kissing in the parking lot of Boomer's and that she touched him sexually before he put his hands down her pants, according to an affidavit. DeLorenzo wrote that Schweizer said "he went too far by doing so and it upset the victim at which time the victim entered her vehicle” and “abruptly departed."

The woman, in an interview with The Record, said she knew Schweizer from when they were students at Kittatinny Regional High School years ago.

They planned to get together after a brief conversation during a recent chance meeting, she said, when she told him she had been going through a divorce and he told her he had a young daughter and also was going through the breakup of a relationship.

She said she “never touched him in a sexual way."

She told police she backed away when Schweizer tried to kiss her, according to court papers, and that he grabbed her as she told him to stop.

The affidavit said Schweizer "pushed her against the exterior of her vehicle and forced his hands down her pants" before she "screamed and pushed him away from her. She immediately entered her vehicle and fled.”

DeLorenzo wrote that Schweizer sent a text message to the woman a short time later, at 2:47 a.m. “Sorry if I got carried away,” it said.

“I told him he really scared me,” the woman told The Record.

DeLorenzo filed the related complaints and affidavits on Feb. 7 in the regional municipal court in Wantage.

Boomer's Place in Hampton Township (Photo: Abbott Koloff)

A prior arrest

The woman told The Record that she waited nine days before going to police because she was "in shock" and had been replaying the incident over and over in her mind.

The affidavit says she contacted a friend who worked at the bar shortly after the incident to tell her about it. She said in The Record interview that she decided to go to police because she became afraid after learning Schweizer recently had been arrested for violating a restraining order in Morris County.

Schweizer was charged on Dec. 31, 2016 with simple assault in a domestic violence case out of Mount Olive, where he had been living, according to court records.

He struck a woman in the leg "with an unknown instrument used as a weapon," police wrote in a criminal complaint. The woman suffered an unspecified injury and declined treatment, according to an incident report. Court records do not specify whether a child who lived at the home witnessed the incident but indicate that a child was "present."

In January, Schweizer was arrested twice, on the 18th and the 30th, for allegedly violating a restraining order, according to Morris County Jail records. The status of charges related to those arrests were unavailable this week.

Schweizer pleaded guilty to the simple assault charge on March 27 in Mount Olive municipal court, records show.

Troopers and prosecutors clash over sexual assault charges

In the Sussex case, DeLorenzo consulted with other troopers before filing the criminal complaints, according to the police union. Court records show a municipal judge, Glenn Gavan, found probable cause for the charges.

Bukosky, the union attorney, said that ruling indicated the judge found police actions "to be entirely appropriate.”

It is not clear, however, whether the judge knew that prosecutors had not approved the charges. Gavan did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Koch said his office declined to approve the sexual assault charges — and then moved to have them dismissed — because "the office did not believe there was sufficient evidence to establish probable cause."

That move set off a dispute between the two agencies.

The State Troopers Fraternal Order filed an amended unfair practice charge with the state Public Employment Relations Commission, known as PERC,  a little more than two weeks ago.

The complaint alleged that some troopers were improperly moved out of the Sussex barracks because they pursued the woman's sexual assault complaint against the wishes of prosecutors.

According to a union letter to the state, at least seven of the troopers had been based in that county. They included DeLorenzo, who filed the sexual assault charges in apparent defiance of prosecutors, and Darran Crane, a union representative.

Bukosky said this week that some of the 17 reassigned troopers were sent to Sussex County to replace disciplined officers.

The union said in the grievance that Schweizer's father had “political ties” but did not accuse him of taking any actions to intercede in this case on behalf of his son. It also characterized Schweizer's statement to police as a "confession."

Schweizer's attorney, Robert Schwartz, denied that characterization, saying it “was not a confession” and “did not fulfill the elements of the crime being charged.”

Schwartz also noted that a Superior Court judge later did not approve a request by the woman who made the accusations for a final order of protection, checking a box indicating the allegations had “not been substantiated.”

This week, Koch, the Sussex County prosecutor, took the unusual step of addressing the allegations in some detail, saying in a statement that he felt "compelled to respond" even though the labor complaint was directed at state police officials who disciplined the officers and not at his office.

He said he made the decision to drop the charges after reviewing affidavits and taped interviews. He also pointed to new legal requirements — part of the bail reform law that went into effect on Jan. 1 — requiring police to get an assistant prosecutor’s approval before filing charges for indictable offenses.

The prosecutor said during a Feb. 8 Superior Court hearing that his office wanted to “more fully investigate this matter,” according to a court transcript. This week, he said he doesn't anticipate filing charges in the case.

Superior Court in Newton, Sussex County (Photo: Abbott Koloff)

Explosive charges by the union

In its grievance, the union alleged that members of the Prosecutor’s Office tried to get the woman to agree with their decision to dismiss the charges, telling her the defendant was remorseful and “didn’t ‘fully’ rape her.” They added that a jury would not believe she would have been able to fight him off, as she told police, because he is 7-feet tall. Schweizer is 6-foot-7, according to court records.

“They were trying to get me to say it didn’t happen,” the woman said in her interview with The Record, adding that she filed a complaint against the Prosecutor's Office with the state Attorney General's Office. "I know the truth, and that’s what matters.”

Assistant Prosecutor Seana Pappas and Lt. Jennifer Williams participated in the interview with the woman, which lasted 2 1/2 hours, according to the union.

In a phone conversation with DeLorenzo, Pappas allegedly threatened to "start a war" if the trooper went ahead with the charges. The union said troopers also received calls from First Assistant Prosecutor Greg Mueller, who allegedly said there would be repercussions for their actions, and from Koch himself saying that he intended to dismiss the charges.

The union alleged that unidentified “members of the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office” contacted high-ranking state police officers about the matter leading to "every member of the Sussex County State Troopers Unit involved in the case” being transferred on or about March 1 “in retaliation” for actions taken related to the sexual assault charges.

The state police have not yet filed a response to the grievance and declined to comment on the case, citing a “pending internal investigation.”

The state Attorney General’s Office also declined to comment.

The dispute will now work its way through the administrative law system, with a conference set for October.

Joe Malinconico of Paterson Press contributed to this article.


Rasmussen Poll: 67% say NO to the NFL

Americans appear to have had enough.  A new poll by Rasmussen shows 67 percent of Americans in opposition to tax breaks for NFL teams and their owners. 

Rasmussen polled this question nationally: "Do you favor or oppose giving tax breaks to NFL teams?"


In response, 67 percent answered "NO", just 18 percent answered "YES", with 15 percent undecided or not sure.  More women opposed tax breaks than men: 68% NO, 13% YES, 19% Not Sure. 


Non-white/non-African-American voters were strongest in opposition.  They answered 70% NO, 16% YES, 14% Not Sure.  African-Americans were strongly opposed however: 62%, 22%, 16%. 

There was very little difference between the parties, with Republicans and Democrats in opposition to tax breaks at 71% and 69%, respectively.



Looks like the wheels are coming off all those efforts by rich, suburban, pseudo-leftists -- who have troubled so many of our public spaces with their attempts at becoming local B-list celebrities.  Your attempt at making a fashion statement has suffered a backlash.  Congratulations!


Dan Perez has a six-year plan to bankrupt Sussex County

When you think back on all the spending "mistakes" that the Sussex County Freeholder Board has made since 2011, can we afford six more years of them?

Dan Perez thinks so. 

Dan Perez is a Democrat running for Freeholder.  Perez is a New York lawyer who has helped many a county insider with their legal troubles.  Perez is himself an insider, who has been appointed to two patronage jobs courtesy of the Freeholder Board. 

At the Freeholder debate on Wednesday evening, Dan Perez argued the case for the county establishment.  Perez said to "trust" county government.

Fortunately, most taxpayers know better.  They want their government back in their own hands.  They want a plan to get the county out of debt, so that we can begin to talk about getting property taxes under control. 

The people who pay property taxes know that the Democrats' talk of lowering them is pure bullshit (because they are the party of higher property taxes) and that the Republicans' hopes to lower them are pie-in-the-sky until we get spending and debt under control.  That's why we need a five-year plan to get out of debt, instead of Dan Perez' six-year plan to put Sussex County into bankruptcy.

Neighboring Warren County has such a plan.  They are on the path to a debtless future.

How are they doing it?  By putting county government on a diet.

While Sussex County was stumbling from crisis to crisis, from scandal to scandal, Warren County passed an ordinance that prevented its politicians from borrowing without first getting the approval of the taxpayers.  It is a reform that works!

What it does is this:  Before any long-term borrowing can happen, it must first go on the ballot for the voters to decide whether or not they think it is a worthy project and they want to pay for it.

Once this ordinance is passed, the politicians on the Sussex County Freeholder Board will have to ask the taxpayers for permission the next time someone comes up with a scheme to use tax money to place solar panels all over the place, or to build a new county administration building, or to finance the sale of the county dump to private investors.  It would put any of these crazy ideas on hold until the voters can properly scrutinize the plans and then place it on the ballot for the voters to decide.

It is the same thing that just happened in Newton, where the voters got to decide on a ballot question seeking voter approval for more than $18 million in bonds to fund the expansion and renovation of the Merriam Avenue School.  Voters were asked to approve $18.69 million in new debt (bonds), which would have increased the tax burden on the average home by $337 annually over the next 20 years.  959 voters said "no" and 238 voters said "yes" so the borrowing didn't happen.  

No wonder insiders like Dan Perez are pissing their pants!

Some insiders make an argument that begins with the words, "what about an emergency" -- when they darn well know that the ordinance makes exclusions for emergencies.  It also makes exclusions for anticipatory borrowing, where the money is promised to the county.  What it ends is borrowing just to spend money and give contracts to other insiders. 

Insiders like Dan Perez are livid over this legislation and at how it threatens them and their fellow insiders.  At Wednesday night's debate, Perez lied about the ordinance and used the term "gimmick" to describe it.  Now telling lies is something lawyers are trained at, so we shouldn't expect better from Perez, but we think "gimmick" better describes what Perez did when he tried to get the fine reduced for a convicted scumbag who tried to bring heroin into the country.  That was a "gimmick" and that was a convicted scumbag and that was Dan Perez.

Here's a copy of the ordinance passed by Warren County.  It's working!


On motion by Mr. Smith, seconded by Mr. Gardner, the following resolution was adopted by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Warren at a meeting held on February 13, 2013.


WHEREAS, Warren County was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature in 1825 as a Class III County (political subdivision) deriving its authority from the people and the State Legislature; and

WHEREAS, the creation of debt is addressed in part by the State Legislature in Article VIII, Section II, Paragraph 3 (a) of the N.J. State Constitution which requires that debt in excess of 1% of the annual appropriations of the Legislature shall be submitted to the voters for approval; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Chosen Freeholders is an entity of limited authority whose members are chosen by the voters of Warren County and who have solemnly pledged to exclusively represent their interests; and

WHEREAS, the members of the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders shall operate within the framework of the Constitutions of the United States and the State of New Jersey along with the laws enacted by the Legislature and who have a moral obligation to have its decisions reflect the will of the people they serve; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Warren County have the right to transparency in the operations of County Government and to be informed of the decisions that affect the financial health, safety and welfare of the County.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders in the County of Warren, State of New Jersey as follows:

1. It shall be the policy of the Board of Chosen Freeholders not to create nor authorize debt on behalf of the County of Warren that exceeds 2% of the annual appropriations of the County, unless such debt is approved by the voters pursuant to provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:37‐1, et. seq.

2. The Board of Chosen Freeholders further resolve that the citizens of Warren County have a right to be informed of the specific purpose of any borrowing authorized by its Board of Chosen Freeholders along with the overall costs to the taxpayers and the manner in which such debt shall be repaid and the terms and conditions of such debt.

3. It shall be the policy of the Board of Chosen Freeholders not to assume additional debt, nor enter into any bonding agreements not approved by the majority of the voters of Warren County.

4. Debts incurred by independent public authorities or boards who have their own governing body, established under statute, or when repayments of said debts shall be funded by revenues generated for the purpose of said authority or board, are not regulated by this Resolution.

5. Nothing herein shall prohibit the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders from making emergency appropriations when said emergency affects the physical assets of the County of Warren, or the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the County of Warren.

6. This Resolution is not applicable to debt funded by sources other than the County Purpose Tax.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately.

I hereby certify the above to be a true copy of a resolution adopted by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Warren at a meeting held on February 13, 2013.

Steve Marvin, Clerk of the Board

Recorded Vote: Mr. Gardner yes, Mr. Smith yes, Mr. Sarnoski yes

And kudos to Republican Freeholder candidate Herb Yardley for proposing this for Sussex County.


Democrat Dan Perez lied at Freeholder debate

New York City lawyer Dan Perez made a bald-faced lie to voters at the Freeholder debate on Wednesday night, when he failed to own up to the part he played in the no-bid hiring of a New York City law firm to conduct a 62-page review of the county's failed solar program that cost property taxpayers an additional $518,000.00.  The Herald reported that Perez claimed the "assumption" was "based on a misreading of a leaked email to a former freeholder."

First, Dan Perez lied.  The Freeholder was not "former" at the time the memo was written. 

Second, Dan Perez lied again.  His memo was circulated to the campaign team that included the three people who became the majority on the Freeholder Board and who voted to give a no-bid contract to the New York City law firm that cost property taxpayers more than half a million dollars.

Third, Dan Perez lied again.  It was his idea to hire the New York City law firm.  He was the first to raise the idea -- in writing! 

As Freeholder Richard Vohden later discovered through the Open Public Records Act, the entire hiring process of this non-bidder law firm was conducted in secret and behind closed doors.  There was nothing transparent about it.

And it began with Dan Perez, in a backroom memo he prepared to a political campaign team:

"Post to a website"?  Whatever could he mean?

And what is with the urge to file ethics complaints against every other attorney in the county?  Clearing away the competition?  Good thing cooler political heads prevailed, reminding people that this was only a political campaign and that after the election the winning candidates will want to be friends again with those they defeated.  Those cooler political heads prevented some with darker intentions from attempting to destroy the personal and professional reputations of others.