Ex-freeholder, state senator's husband now on Newark payroll

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By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

NEWARK — One half of an Essex County power couple has once again found a place working in the halls of local government.

Samuel Gonzalez, a former Essex County freeholder and husband of state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), is now working in North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos' office as an executive secretary, a title officials said is equivalent to a chief of staff position. 

Gonzalez was hired to the full-time, $72,253 position in mid-August. NJ Advance Media recently learned of the appointment through a 2014 financial disclosure statement filed by Ruiz, who is also chief of staff to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.

He could not be reached for comment on this story.

In a statement, Ramos cited Gonzalez's past political work, including a prior stint is his office, and presence in the community as the reason for the hire. He replaced former executive secretary Liliana Rodriguez, who left the post to move to Florida in July.

"(Gonzalez) has a long history of working to improve the lives of young people and is highly regarded by youth recreational organizations throughout the city," Ramos said. "Sam was part of my original staff when I first joined the City Council in 2006 and I am extremely fortunate to have him working on my behalf now for the residents of the North Ward."

In 2011, Gonzalez stepped down as an Essex County freeholder as part of a deal with state prosecutors after he and a number of other county and campaign workers were indicted on voter fraud charges in connection with Ruiz's landslide 2007 election victory.

Gonzalez was accused of submitting phony absentee ballots to aid in the victory.

As part of the bargain with prosecutors, he was allowed entry into a pre-trial intervention program that included no admission of guilt, and allowed his record to be expunged upon completion. The deal did not prevent him from working in the public sector in the future.

Prior to accepting the post in Ramos' office, he had worked at the Boys and Girls Club on Avon Avenue in Newark, according to Ruiz's financial filing.

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