In an exclusive interview with MoreMonmouthMusings, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno said that she is pleased that the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has ruled that documents associated with the investigation into her hiring of a retired detective when she was the Monmouth County Sheriff will be released within 45 days.
“The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) and the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) have investigated my actions while Monmouth County Sheriff, regarding the hiring and compensation of an employee and found nothing. When the internal investigative documents that the blogger has sued for are released, they will show – again- that I acted appropriately and in the best interests of Monmouth County taxpayers,” Guadagno said.
Appellate Judges George S. Leone and Carol E. Higbee ruled on Thursday that two documents , a three page letter date June 6, 2011 from PFRS to the Attorney General requesting an investigation and one page letter dated June 21, 2012 from the Division of Criminal Justice(DCJ) to PFRS on the status of the investigation, shall be released. Leone and Higbee’s ruling overturned a ruling by Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson that the State had the right to withhold the documents from Mark Lagerkvist, a blogger who has used his allegations against Guadagno to kick start his career.
The Appellate Court agreed with Jacobson that an internal memo dated June 14, 2012 should not be turned over to Lagerkvist.
In addition to Michael Donovan’s employment in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office while collecting a pension, DCJ also investigated at least two other Sheriff’s Office employees from Essex and Union Counties that Guadagno had no involvement with.
“If it had been up to me, these documents would have been released years ago,” Guadagno said. “But, as a lawyer, and a former state and federal prosecutor, I respect the court’s decision here.”
Since 2010 Lagerkvist has been reporting Guadagno acted fraudulently when she hired Michael Donovan, a highly decorated retired former detective from the Monmouth County prosecutor’s office to lead the Monmouth Sheriff’s Office Law Division with the title Chief Warrant Officer in September of 2008. The detective, who served for more than 25 years in the County, was collecting a pension of $85,000 per year.
“The problem with stories on the Internet are that they are sometimes just that, unsubstantiated musings of a blogger. The Detective’s employment and compensation were reviewed by both Monmouth County and New Jersey’s Pension authorities before he was hired in 2008,” said Guadagno. “The Freeholder Board, then controlled by Democrats, approved the actual hiring. It’s no coincidence that it was only after the announcement of my run for Lt. Governor, that someone would try to derail my candidacy by complaining about the efforts of the first woman sheriff in the county. That’s just politics in New Jersey. Of course, PFRS found no wrong doing and DCJ investigated and found no wrong doing.
I understand politics – they took their best shot and came up empty. But it’s a shame that the Detective, now Undersheriff, who simply wanted to serve his county, and who is still serving his county, had to suffer through literally dozens of articles by this blogger simply because of the bloggers peculiar obsession with this story. It’s time to move on.”
Guadagno said that by hiring Donovan at $87,500 with no fringe benefits to lead the Sheriff’s Office Law Division, she saved Monmouth County taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. “The Detective took a position that usually carries a salary of $120,000-$150,000 plus health and pension benefits. We were very fortunate to have a well-qualified law enforcement official bring his experience to the office at a drastically lower salary, at a time when we were faced with severe cutbacks in Monmouth County.”