No Free Lunch for Capece

Based on check registry records going back to 2004 the law firm now known as Garrubbo & Capece received over $1 million in fees from Union County through July, 2011 (most for vague reasons like ‘Specialized Legal Services’ but at least $42,844 for cases Renna v. Devanney et al and Renna v. UC). The spreadsheet of those bills is here.

During that time Frank Capece and other lawyers at that firm donated regularly to the Union County Democratic Committee and individual freeholder campaigns.  Those donation records are here.

This morning jury selection is scheduled to begin.

No not for pay-to-play violations.  That would be ridiculous in this state.  No, according to an nj.com story today:

In 2011, then Elizabeth school board president Marie Lynn Munn was arrested along with the spouses of two other school officials on charges of illegally getting free or reduced-cost lunches for their children.

Munn was later convicted and sentenced to probation and community service. The charges against the other two defendants were later dismissed.

On Monday, five years after those arrests, jury selection is scheduled to begin in a trial for the school board’s lawyer, who is accused of interfering with the state’s investigation of the federally funded lunch program. The program provides free and reduced-cost lunches for lower income families.

Kirk Nelson, 48, of Roselle, faces charges of official misconduct, tampering with public records, hindering prosecution records and conspiracy. A second lawyer for the school board, Frank Capece, 64, of Cranford, faces the same charges.

Both Nelson and Capece were indicted in 2013, and both have pleaded not guilty. They had been scheduled to be tried together.

However, on April 7, Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim granted a defense motion to have their trials conducted separately. Capece’s case is expected to go to trial after Nelson’s case is done, the state Attorney General’s Office said.

Peim previously rejected motions from both Nelson and Kirk to dismiss the charges.

The state Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, alleges a cover-up began after State Police served a subpoena on the district demanding all applications for the free lunch program going back to 2004.

Prosecutors allege Capece and Nelson arranged for the 2011-12 lunch application by then school board member Juan Donoso and his wife Olga Oviedo-Arevalo be pulled from the district’s official records. Donoso had allegedly told the lawyers that his wife did not accurately fill out the form.

After documents were pulled to comply with the subpoena, prosecutors claim, Capece and Nelson arranged for the application to be put back into district files. The couple’s children were also switched from free to paid status in the computer system for the National School Lunch Program.

capece picture

 

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bpaterson on May 9, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    The whole soprano union county system is proven so corrupted. Just like the suit against the renna’s years ago discovered that the soprano county had fabricated emails as exhibits against the rennas by back dating them. Despite the fabrication, the Renna’s were absolved anyway. Any OPRA from entities like the eliz scool system, the soprano union county govt, kean college, UCUA, UCIA, has to be looked at with a wary eye that information that was requested but may be deleterious may either be destroyed or just not handed over. ( Oddly, these are all entities that senator Lesniak proudly claims he controls)

    Another example was a UCWA OPRA to the soprano union county prosecutors office many years ago requesting documents on freeholder mirabellas brother who had 2 criminal charges against him. The OPRA respionse came back as “none in existence” yet in the same OPRA request given to a town for same documents, the town provided those documents.

    This goes to a serious trust issue and as we all know the county and the entities it controls just cannot be trusted in providing complete information if it goes against them. Simple fact.

    Reply

  2. Posted by ReadsLikeAMafiaBook on May 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Good thing for Garrubo & Capece that NJ allows bribery of public officials , a/k/a campaign donations … Neither Garrubo nor Capece are bright IMO and I wouldn’t want either of them as my attorney. I’ll report back if they lose the case I’m working on in which they represent a certain party. Pretty sure it’s a loser for them.

    Reply

  3. […] Capece is part of a law firm that played this game with Union County for years but then a school lunch scandal broke in Elizabeth and the firm got blackballed though the best we can figure on the timing is a listing of campaign […]

    Reply

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