Pillets strongly denies theft of files

In an e-mail to PolitickerNJ.com, printed in its entirety, The Record's Jeff Pillets offers his side of the story regarding missing files at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection:

You should know the truth about what happened. I went to the DEP to inspect a public file early last week. At 4:30 pm they were closing up shop and I had to get out of there. I left a note on the file asking them not to put it away because I would be back later in the week. As I rushed to leave I inadvertently mixed in a couple of public files with some of my own I was carrying. Later on in the week I called DEP and asked for an interview based on what I had read in the file. I named specific documents I wanted them to review. They said they would review the file again and we agreed to talk Friday. It was only then they discovered that some of their files I asked them to comment on were missing. I was as surprised as the state was, because I was eager for DEP officials to answer questions on the same files had seen. I then searched and found them mixed in with my own stuff and immediately returned them.

There were no troopers involved that I knew of. The press office said they notified the AG because they felt the documents were sensitive and part of the federal investigation. There was an AG rep at the DEP when I returned the documents. I gave then to him. We talked for 5 minutes and that was that.

In the past 2 to 3 years I have spent hundreds of man hours at the DEP and reviewed and copied thousands of pages of documents. I have an impeccable record and a great relationship with the department's OPRA officials, many of whom I know by name. The idea that I would deliberately plan to steal a public file and then direct the agency to review documents I had allegedly stolen is absurd.

Pillets strongly denies theft of files