Former personnel director Betty Taylor, who challenged the state’s move to uphold her termination by the city for conduct unbecoming of a public employee, lost her case, according to New Jersey court records.
“We consider Johnson-Taylor’s arguments to be so lacking in merit as to not warrant much discussion in a written opinion,” wrote appellate court judges Carmen H. Alvarez and William E. Nugent in an opinion issued on Feb. 26, 2019.
Taylor, who also goes by the name Betty Gene Johnson-Taylor, argued the New Jersey Civil Service Commission’s Feb. 8, 2017 decision was “shocking” to one’s sense of fairness because it imposed a punishment that’s disproportionate to the offense.
She also argued the commission’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.”
Taylor was terminated on Jan. 16, 2015 from her assistant personnel director post. She was accused of misrepresenting her income to secure a home improvement loan through the Paterson Pride Program, a program for low-income residents. She signed a loan application on Dec. 1, 2010 which stated her income was $53,868 when in fact she had received a pay increase six months earlier that pushed her income up to $80,340, according to state records.
Taylor has been attempting to get back on the municipal payroll for the past four years. She received a favorable opinion from administrative law judge JoAnn LaSala Candido, who sided with her and suggested a six-month suspension rather than termination.
Candido’s opinion had to be ratified by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission. Municipal officials filed what’s called an “exception” with the commission to uphold the termination. The commission sided with the city and upheld the termination.
Besides the alleged income misrepresentation, Taylor was also ensnared in the flood overtime scandal.
A City Council investigation into overtime pay collected by high ranking administration officials in the aftermath of hurricane Irene led to the finding that Taylor received $14,875 in inappropriate overtime pay. Under her watch, the personnel division allowed overtime payments without proper documentation. She was also accused of conspiring with ex-community development director Lanisha Makle to produce fraudulent overtime records, the investigation found.
On June 14, 2012, the council through a resolution terminated Taylor from her acting personnel director post. The next month she was returned to her post as assistant personnel director at the direction of the civil service commission. She was reinstated with back pay on July 23, 2012.
Former mayor Jeffery Jones’ administration never brought charges against Taylor for her alleged mismanagement of funds in the 2011 council investigation.
Jones’ successor, former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration, looked at Taylor’s loan application and referred it to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office for review. Prosecutors determined there was no criminal intent, according to public records. Similarly, the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also found no criminal intent on Taylor’s part.
Taylor was first hired by the city in 2004, according to municipal payroll records. She represented herself in the appeal.
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