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Two Sayreville officials violated local ethics law when hiring family members as cops

SAYREVILLE – Two government officials in Sayreville have been found in violation of state statute, but not fined, for discussing and voting on police vacancies in 2017 when they had family members on the hiring list.

In separate notices sent by the Local Finance Board on Dec. 15, Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick and Borough Councilwoman Mary Novak were determined to have violated the Local Government Ethics Law at a 2017 meeting while both were members of the council.

The notices stated that Kilpatrick and Novak participated in executive (closed) session discussion and voted on declaring five vacancies in the Sayreville Police Department when the police hiring list had Kilpatrick’s brother Robert Deuel and Novak’s son Charles. These actions prompted complaints against them to the Local Finance Board.

During the 2017 meeting, Kilpatrick and Novak said they were advised by Borough Attorney Michael DuPont that they could vote on the matter because the family members were not dependents of theirs.

According to the notices, the Local Government Ethics Law states that no government officer or employee will act in their official capacity in any matter where they, a member of their immediate family, or business organization they have interest or involvement with that might reasonably impair their objectivity or independence of judgement.

The Local Finance Board found that Kilpatrick and Novak engaged in activities prohibited by state statute and they were each assessed a $100 fine. However, the fines were waived because their actions were made with reliance on the advice of counsel.

The board’s decisions are not final and both Kilpatrick and Novak are entitled to administrative hearings to contest the notices. If an administrative hearing is requested, the final decision will not be issued until the hearing process is completed, according to the notices.

In addition to the Local Government Ethics Law violation finding, the board dismissed a second allegation against Kilpatrick and Novak. According to the notices, the board determined that they did not use or attempt to use their official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for themselves or others when they participated in the closed session discussion and voted to declare the vacancies.

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