This week former Assemblyman Neil Cohen was indicted for viewing child pornography on state owned computers located in the legislative office he had shared with State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak and Assemblyman, Union County Undersheriff, Democratic State Committee Chairman, Union Township Municipal Chairman Joseph Cryan. It has been six months since Cohen was spirited away to commit himself to a psychiatric facility to the time that the Attorney General announced that a Grand Jury had handed up an indictment. There have been many here in Union County who had given up on ever hearing anything more about the case certain that Cohen had been given special treatment because of his station in life or politics depending how you look at it. The AG has shown that the Cohen’s supposed transgressions are not going to be swept under the rug if she can help it and it appears that he will get slammed to the full extent of the law. Anne Milgram will be a bulldog in pursuing this case as she has made fighting crimes against children her number one priority.
Though the AG is to be commended there are some issues that are begging to be addressed and it is doubtful that those answers will be coming from Milgram’s office. . The first of course being how did his roomies, Lesniack and Cryan, not notice that something was amiss before the offending materials were discovered on the office printer in July when it has been unofficially reported that this was not the first time questionable stuff had appeared in the office. Next why did they go to the Office of Legislative Services, when Cryan himself is an undersheriff? Didn’t he have an obligation to immediately take action? Why not pick up the phone and contact County Prosecutor Ted Romankow, or his immediate boss Sheriff Ralph Froehlich? Why was Cohen allowed to get his business in order and check into a hospital, would John Q. Public be given the same opportunity or would he have immediately been whisked to the pokey? Where has he been for these 6 months, and who moved him from his home in Roselle to a residence in Paramus? And now why has there not been an arrest and why is he being allowed to turn himself in later in the week or so?
Looking at the case as objectively as possible we are still left asking two questions. Why would Cohen resign his assembly seat if he were innocent, and how will he plead? Though he has been quiet about the charges or the circumstances surrounding his resignation one has to assume thru that silence that he is not making any denials Realizing this simple truth gives one cause to shudder and feel tremendous disappointment that so many of us could have been such poor judges of a man’s character and that we were all betrayed by the manner in which he portrayed himself.
Secondly why has everyone just laid off of Joe Cryan, the Union County Undersheriff who obviously did not do his job; one that the residents of Union County pay him handsomely to do? It would appear that Mr. Cryan panicked when confronted with a situation that was clearly the commission of a crime. In reality this was not an ethical question, this was not something to be handled differently than what would have been the case if it was not a legislator but simply the guy next door. We have to pause and give thought to the fact that Joe Cryan is one of the likely successors to Ralph Froehlich our aging sheriff who in all probably, will opt out of another run at office or who though he is in good physical shape at this writing could suddenly find himself unable to perform his duties. Do the residents of Union County want a sheriff who reports a crime to the Office of Legislative Services perhaps because he believed that the perpetrator of that crime should be/could be given special treatment simply because he has won an election or two? It is highly doubtful that any of the Freeholders, who are in the end his bosses, have given this aspect of the situation any thought, after all doesn’t Cryan as the NJ State Committee Chair really hold sway over them? There are those who believe that Cryan’s actions or rather lack of appropriate action should be investigated by the Freeholders to the fullest to learn what his role really was regarding the reporting of this repulsive crime, and if he shirked his duty as the undersheriff appropriate action should be taken regardless of his political position.