In March 2015, several media reported that Michael C. Palmer, a lieutenant in the Margate Fire Department, was charged with stealing more than $75,000 from his union.  An example of the media coverage is on-line here.

In June 4, 2015 written opinion, however, Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson indicated that Palmer’s arrest wasn’t just a “lone theft” but just the tip of a “wide-ranging investigation involving many people and extending beyond the City of Margate.”

Judge Johnson’s ruling, a copy of which is on-line here, resolved my November 2014 OPRA lawsuit that sought information as to Palmer’s alleged misdeeds (background on the lawsuit is on-line here).  In explaining why the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office was justified in responding to my OPRA request in a manner that was “neither precise nor concise,” Johnson wrote:

It’s apparent to this court that there is much more entailed in this on-going investigation than the misconduct a single fireman. Scrutiny of Mr. Palmer’s conduct, together with information received from him, has revealed more than a lone theft of funds from the Firefighter’s Local 41 account. The investigation into his conduct has opened the door on other matters, and shed light on the potential misdeeds of other public officials and licensed professionals. The arrest of Mr. Palmer launched a wide-ranging investigation involving many people and extending beyond the City of Margate.

Hopefully, the public will soon learn the results of this investigation.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]