Weehawken tax collector claims in lawsuit mayor ordered taxes inflated
The Weehawken collector alleged in a federal lawsuit that Mayor Richard Turner knowingly ordered township employees to “assess illegally high taxes” on luxury waterfront properties to increase income.
Joseph Fredericks, the tax collector, claims in a lawsuit brought by a township police officer that Turner ordered the high assessments and discussed the manipulation of tax levies to fill township coffers, according to the 2010 court document.
“At times when it was politically appropriate, Mayor Turner would ask me to manipulate the garbage tax collection to advance his political agenda, like the elections last May when the minimum garbage tax was collected.” , we read in the document.
Turner demanded that Fredericks hit waterfront properties with levies of up to 30% more than they should have been, Fredericks says.
“These allegations are false … false,” said David Corrigan, labor attorney for Weehawken, who added that as a tax collector, Fredericks “would not participate or be involved in” the calculation of property taxes.
The mayor said if a homeowner thinks his taxes are too high, he has the right to appeal, and Weehawken wins the majority of those cases. “If (taxes) were artificially inflated, we would lose the records.”
Fredericks’ explosive allegations surfaced in a separate lawsuit filed in 2011 by Fredericks, which alleges in that lawsuit that Turner, Township Superintendent James Marchetti and others retaliated against him when he made his claims in 2010.
Fredericks alleges that Turner, Marchetti and others denied him promised back pay, withheld pay increases, and generally created a hostile work environment.
Federal Judge William J. Martini last month rejected most of the township’s attempts
scuttling Fredericks’ costume.
Turner called the charges legal “blackmail” because the township did not want to settle with Fredericks.
“These lawsuits have no relation to reality,” said the mayor.
Fredericks is asking for about $ 1 million in punitive damages from Turner and about $ 250,000 in back wages, according to Louis A. Zayas, his lawyer.
Fredericks’ claims “should be investigated by the attorney general’s office,” Zayas told the Jersey Journal.
âI don’t know why this has never been done,â he said.
The township, in attempting to derail Fredericks ‘trial, claimed the tax collector could not sue Turner because Turner was not Fredericks’ employer, a claim Martini calls “creative but erroneous “in its opinion of 15 November.
Fredericks’ claims about Turner manipulating the levies are contained in a four-page certification he filed in September 2010 in connection with the lawsuit that Police Lt. Richard DeCosmis filed against the township. In this lawsuit, filed in October 2008, DeCosmis claims he was unlawfully harassed by Turner and other township officials.
Fredericks’ certification in the DeCosmis case was intended to show that Turner is “the sole person responsible for developing policy and managing day-to-day affairs at Weehawken,” the document said.