Council authorizes township solicitor to take legal action against former Business Administrator

Solicitor Stuart Platt had claimed earlier this year former B.A. Robert Smith had unlawfully appropriated severance and vacation payments

Council has authorized Township Solicitor Stuart Platt to take legal action against former Business Administrator Robert Smith.

Months ago, Platt, on behalf of Mayor Joann Gattinelli, claimed Smith obtained a direct deposit of more than $17,000 on Jan. 12, weeks after his appointment had expired.

Council voted at last week’s meeting to authorize the solicitor to take legal action, including the filing of suit against Smith, to obtain the funds appropriated by the former employee, costs of suit and “any other damages permitted by law.”

According to the resolution, Smith “on his own and without the authority of either the mayor or council” allocated more than $9,150 in severance pay and more than $8,150 for vacation pay after his term had already expired. Platt issued a letter, dated March 13, “demanding return of the improper payments.”

“Smith, an attorney, did not respond to the township solicitor but responded to the members of council directly, without a copy to the township solicitor, potentially in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys in New Jersey,” the resolution said.

Council determined Smith’s payments were in violation of his employment agreement with the township, the Civilian Policies and Procedures Manual of the township and other laws, the document said.

The vote to approve the resolution was unanimous, with Councilwoman Dana Pasqualone absent.

Last week, Smith said he was not in a position to comment.

Mayor Joann Gattinelli (left) and Councilwoman Angela Donato (right) recognized residents and founders of Township Rock Amy Enever (holding proclamation on left) and Laura Rohanna (left of Donato) as star citizens for their efforts in getting children and families outside and active with the popular hide-and-seek rock art project. Pictured with them are, in the back from left, Enever’s husband Tom, and Rohanna’s son Paulie, 4, held by her husband Paul. In the front, from left, are Enever’s children Maddie, 7, and Will, 9, and Rohanna’s daughter Sofia, 9.

In other news:

• Gattinelli presented a proclamation to residents Amy Enever and Laura Rohanna, with their families, as star citizens of Washington Township as they implemented the Township Rocks program, encouraging children and parents to be active in an outdoor, community-driven setting.

“Having the children be creative, get together, see their friends they don’t necessarily see in the summer and be able to post and see how proud they were of their art project,” Gattinelli said. “[You] took initiative to step forward creating a positive family friendly activity integrating today’s technology with physical activity helping to get our youth healthy.”