The Local Finance Board (LFB) conceded today (August 10, 2012) that the Board, in the past (and “under a prior administration”), did not always follow “standard procedures for pursuing fines for penalty enforcement.” Accordingly, a $300 fine levied in 2007 against a member of the Bellville (Essex County) Library Board of Trustees was never enforced and, apparently, will not now be enforced.
On December 4, 2007, the LFB issued a Notice of Violation against Michael Perrone who, despite being a Local Government Officer, failed or refused to file his Financial Disclosure Statements for 2004 and 2005. The Notice levied a $300 fine against Perrone.
On July 24, 2012, I submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the Division of Local Government Services (LGS) within the Department of Community Affairs for records proving that Perrone either paid the fine or the LFB took enforcement action against him. On July 31, 2012, I received a response from LGS records custodian Colleen Kelly informing me that no documents existed that were responsive to my request.
On August 2, 2012, I submitted a follow up OPRA request to see whether the fine against Perrone was abated or if some other legitimate reason existed for the state’s failure to collect it. On August 10, 2012, I received Kelly’s response confirming that the fine was never paid, collected or abated. The response included an explanation from LGS Director Thomas H. Neff which, in essence, conceded that the matter slipped through the cracks. Mr. Neff assured me, however, that his agency has “since rectified” this lapse in enforcement proceedings.
Perrone’s Notice of Violation and the OPRA requests and responses are on-line here.