The city’s construction official Gennaro “Jerry” Lobozzo has been suspended for five days for alleged unbecoming conduct, according to municipal officials.
Lobozzo is accused of conduct unbecoming of a public employee and insubordination. His unpaid suspension term began on Dec. 3. He is expected to return to work on Monday. His immediate supervisor Community Improvement director David Gilmore declined to comment on Thursday morning stating it’s a personnel matter.
Lobozzo allegedly cursed out city inspectors. He also advised properties owners targeted for code enforcement to call police on inspectors, according to municipal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Economic development director Michael Powell referred a request for comment to mayor Andre Sayegh’s chief of staff Kathleen Long.
Long declined to comment. She also would not say whether Lobozzo’s current employment status is suspended.
“We as an administration are not going to comment on any personnel matters. We do not want to get in the habit of this person’s status or what have you,” said Long on Thursday afternoon.
Sayegh administration is deviating from long-established practice of providing employment status information when an employee is suspended or terminated. Sayegh initially referred request for comment to Powell. He subsequently did not respond to a message for comment.
Lobozzo did not respond to multiple calls seeking his input for this story.
Former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres hired Lobozzo in Feb. 2015 as Community Improvement director. His title was later changed to construction official. His salary is $78,000, according to municipal records.
Lobozzo has received criticism from some officials for his interpretation of municipal ordinances his office is tasked to enforce. For example, he has said a building occupied by someone, by virtue of it being occupied, has a certificate of occupancy.
Lobozzo testified against the city in a court hearing in March. He was banned from the campus of the Essex County Community College in January for allegedly threatening a former colleague in the college’s hallway.