Business administrator Charles Thomas completed an inadequate investigation by not taking into account every check that was issued to former mayor Jose Torres. It emerged this week that another $3,169 check was issued to Torres in 2008, long before the infamous $73,996 check that was issued in 2010.
After former councilman Aslon Goow made the matter public in August 2013, the City Council had two options: to form a Committee of Whole to investigate the matter or to have the administration investigate it and submit a report.
The council selected the easy way out by allowing Thomas to complete the investigation. Thomas reluctantly or cleverly delayed and delayed for almost seven month before handing in a report. In September the business administration said he would have a report in two weeks; in November Thomas said he would have a report in December; in December the business administration said he had a death in the family (condolences to the Thomas family), and would not have it until January.
The delaying tactics were ignored or they went intentionally unnoticed. Thomas completed a report on January 7th, 2014, which was a series of interviews with high ranking bureaucrats. He managed to trace how the lump sum check was issued to the former mayor without digging deeper to figure out whether other abuses took place as a proper investigation ought to do. Thomas did not catch the $3,169 check from 2008.
The report was in its final form without a conclusion as to whether the check was legitimate or otherwise.
City lawyers sent the report to the Passaic County Prosecutors Office and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to have a conclusion added to the report. The DCA found the report was incomplete, as reported by Joe Malinconico and published in North Jersey Media Group website. The prosecutor’s office has yet to bother with it.
With neither the state nor the county showing a desire to resolve this for the town, the city must get to the bottom of this festering issue. Members of the council should convene a Committee of the Whole and commence their own investigation to get to the bottom of this matter. The council should own up to the fact that Thomas’ report was poorly done, and a new investigation is necessary.