Baraka seeks investigation of Essex County agency

By PolitickerNJ Staff | October 7th, 2013


Ras Baraka has asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate claims that an Essex County agency improperly doled out federal funds to unqualified applicants for aid.

The request arises from allegations contained in a Star Ledger report that ran Sunday containing claims that pressure was applied by Essex County officials to provide aid to reisdents whose income far exceeded program limits.

"I hereby request that your office conduct an investigation to determine if a crime has been committed," Baraka said in the email to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.  "If so, who is responsible for the misuse of federal funds."

The Ledger story outlined several awards of aid that were granted to applicants that far exceeded income threshholds and quoted a former director of the agency, the East Orange Community Development Corp., as saying she received pressure from the top - namely the office of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.

DiVincenzo denied there was ever pressure from his office and said the agency granted aid based on need and need only.

The agency overseeing the grants is run by Anibal Ramos, who's on leave from the job, the North Ward councilman who is challenging Baraka for mayor.  Ramos did not comment for the Ledger story, however, Essex County Inspector General Dominic Scaglione told the paper he looked into the allegations and found "no improprieties whatsoever.” 

A spokesman for Ramos issued a statement.

"It’s surprising Ras Baraka is already out of ideas this early in the campaign that he is now resorting to these desperate tactics for attention," said Bruno Tedeschi. "While Baraka held what was clearly a campaign press conference in City Council chambers in City Hall with campaign supporters, residents in his ward are confronting violence on a daily basis and he has done nothing about it during his three years as a councilman. Ramos is an accomplished administrator who helped transform the Essex County's Juvenile Detention Center into the best facility in the state, more than doubled the number of detention alternative programs available, spearheaded the development of affordable and market rate housing and expanded the number of senior and social services. Ramos is the only candidate for mayor who has released a comprehensive plan for public safety and he remains focused on making Newark safer for all its citizens."

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commented 2013-12-21 23:20:07 -0800
Thank you