Freeholder Race Heats Up: Vicari Says Opponent Was 'Indicted'
Democrat Michele Rosen claims charge was dismissed two decades ago "after a review showed no evidence that any wrongdoing occurred."
Four days into their campaign for a three-year term on Ocean County’s Board of Freeholders, Republican Joseph H. Vicari claims his opponent once faced a criminal charge for her financial dealings, while she is charging him with quadruple dipping at public expense.
Vicari told Patch.com that Democrat Michele Rosen had been “indicted, admitted to pre-trial intervention, and expunged’’ on an unspecified charge.
Rosen conceded Vicari was partly right. She was indicted in November 1989 on a charge of theft by deception, accused of taking more than $500 from Joseph Yoffee on Nov. 15, 1988.
On April 9, 1990, the charge was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Barbara Ann Villano, with the consent of then Assistant Prosecutor Robert W. Scott. Villano gave the prosecutor the option of representing the case to a grand jury, but that never happened.
Rosen last night accused Vicari of releasing “false information about a bogus charge brought by then-prosecutor James Holzapfel (currently Republican candidate for 10th District Senate) against me more than 20 years ago. The charge was dismissed after a review showed no evidence that any wrongdoing occurred.’’
Vicari made the charge after Rosen accused him of “legal theft’’ for collecting pensions from his freeholder post and as Berkeley Township Superintendent of Schools while still working in those positions.
She said Gov. Chris Christie has been critical of the identical practice involving Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who is working at that job while also collecting a pension from it.
Rosen had urged Christie to express his views on Tuesday night at a Republican fundraiser in Toms River.
Vicari said the topic never came up.
Rosen claims Vicari is collecting nearly $200,000 as a result of the pensions and health benefits. She added that he cashed in $40,000 worth of sick time in Berkeley Township shortly before Christie slapped a $15,000 cap on those windfalls.
Vicari said he volunteered to return as Berkeley’s superintendent for free because of a “shortage of certified people.’’ That offer is saving teacher jobs, programs, and reduced taxes, he said.
He said he is being paid $48 a day and gets no benefits. His work in the Berkeley schools is on a “short term basis,’’ he said. He’s entitled to the pension from the school job because he paid into that pension fund for 40 years, Vicari said.
He said he opted to take both pensions to protect his wife. That is different from what DiVincenzo is doing in Essex County because “it’s not the same salary,’’ Vicari said.
Rosen’s “finances should be a public record also,’’ he insisted.
Rosen said she agrees with Christie that collecting a pension and salary for the same job is wrong.
“If it’s wrong for Joe 'D' in Essex; it’s wrong for Joe 'V' in Ocean,’’ Rosen said.