Schepisi Goes off on Murphy after Story about Jackson Hire

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) said today she plans to introduce legislation banning public officials convicted of corruption from holding jobs with state and local governments.

“I believe in second chances, but not when it comes to putting corrupt politicians in positions of public trust,” said Schepisi.  “This is a case about public bribery.”

A Politico report yesterday showed how the Murphy administration hired a former Passaic City councilman who served time in prison for taking bribes from undercover FBI agents.  Marcellus Jackson hired on over the summer to work in the Department of Education with an annual salary of $70,000.

Jackson was one of 11 public officials statewide arrested in the FBI’s September 2007 corruption bust, dubbed “Operation Broken Records,” on charges of taking bribes in exchange for influencing the awarding of public contracts.

A spokesman yesterday said that the department undertook a legal review, and, despite that Jackson could never hold public office, he could work as state employee.

“I don’t think that when the Legislature banned corrupt public officials from ever holding office again anyone imagined a governor would hire one to work for government,” said Schepisi.

A new law, which took effect only 16 days before Jackson’s hire, bars convicted criminals from running for election to a board of education.  That law was passed after it was discovered that Nilesh Dasondi, a man convicted of a felony for falsifying immigration documents, was running for the Edison Township Board of Education.  The bill (A4206) was approved 38-0 by the state Senate and 72-0 by the Assembly last year.

“This just goes to show that this administration is more concerned about their friends than who is best fit to hold a position,” said Schepisi.  “The administration decided not to hire Paula White, who is extremely qualified, because she doesn’t get along with the N.J.E.A.  Yet, they hire someone who is utterly disqualified even though he is corruptible.  The theme here is that this administration does not hire based on merit. It hires bases on friendships.  That doesn’t do well to serve New Jersey.”

Jackson pleaded guilty that December to attempted extortion, and admitted to pocketing $26,000 of payments ranging from $2,500 to $6,000 in exchange for steering city insurance contracts toward an FBI undercover business.

As part of the scheme, Jackson voted against two Passaic City Council resolutions relating to insurance brokerage contracts, which had the effect of favoring the undercover company.  Jackson also admitted to accepting corrupt payments in exchange for arranging meetings with other public officials to obtain insurance business for the undercover company.

U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson sentenced Jackson in 2009 to 25 months in federal prison plus three years of supervised release and ordered he pay a $15,000 fine.  According to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ website, Jackson was released from prison in July 2011.

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