An attorney for an unsuccessful Jersey City council candidate says that the city's current Ward C Councilwoman has two identities: Nidia Lopez, the Jersey City resident and politician, and Nidia Boehringer, the Florida resident and taxpayer.
"She's gone to great lengths to maintain these different personas and make it look like she lived in both places," said Diana Jeffrey, who represents Norrice Raymaker — the third place Ward C Council candidate in the May municipal election — in her lawsuit that charges Lopez is actually a Florida resident.
Jeffrey's law partner, Howard Myerowitz, deposed Lopez on Monday, and while the transcript of the deposition will not be available until tonight, Jeffrey shared some of her findings.
Among the most startling, according to Jeffrey, was Lopez's disclosure that she files her taxes in Florida, where there is no state income tax, even though she says her business – Nidia Boehringer Consulting – is based in New Jersey. Jeffrey said that Lopez has not paid New Jersey income taxes since at least 2006.
"She avoids paying New Jersey income tax by relying on her Florida persona," said Jeffrey. "She maintained under oath that New Jersey is her primary residence, and admitted under oath that Nidia Boehringer Consultants operates exclusively in New Jersey, that she works exclusively in New Jersey, but that she files her tax returns in Florida under the name Boehringer."
Lopez has been under scrutiny since June, when Jimmy King, the second place candidate for her council seat in the May municipal election, filed suit alleging that she was a resident of the Sunshine State. The crux of his case was that Lopez took property exemptions on her Florida home that required her to be a permanent resident of that state. Florida has since charged tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes that state authorities says Lopez owes for incorrectly taking the exemptions.
After King was arrested on corruption charges less than a month after filing the suit, Raymaker, who ran on the reform "One Jersey City Slate,' took the case over. King technically remains a co-plaintiff, but is expected to withdraw.
Jeffrey said that Lopez refinanced her Orlando home in March, 2008 with the name Nidia Boehringer – the last name of her ex-husband, Karl – and claimed it as her primary residence. In a July brief on behalf of Lopez, attorney William Northgrave argued that Lopez — whose last name comes from her current husband, former Jersey City councilman Ben Lopez — has been a permanent resident of Jersey City since at least April, 2008, and that she was until this year registered to vote there under her maiden name, Rivera.
Lopez told Jeffrey that she typically spends three weeks of every month in Jersey City and one week in Orlando. When Jeffrey asked why Lopez claimed the Orlando home as a primary residence as recently as March, 2008, Lopez told her she did not read the mortgage documents.
"Which is really comforting when you think that she's a councilwoman entrusted with making decisions affecting thousands of constituents, that she signs legal documents she doesn't read," said Jeffrey.
Northgrave declined to comment on the specific points Jeffrey raised, preferring to address them in a legal brief that he will file within the next couple weeks.
"I'm outraged that this apparently has nothing to do with legality. She's calling up reporters two days after the deposition instead of trying to litigate her case in court, that's outrageous," he said. (PolitickerNJ.com initially reached out to Jeffrey). "The legal issue is that she needs to be a resident of New Jersey for one year, and there is not a scintilla of evidence that she was not a resident of New Jersey for one year prior to the election."