HACKENSACK – Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan’s campaign kickoff is drawing attention for reasons besides what is expected to be a hard-fought campaign.
At the top of the recently-issued invitation to Donovan’s inaugural 2014 re-election campaign event at the Il Villaggio restaurant in Carlstadt on Dec. 3, Carlstadt Mayor William Roseman is named in a list of several GOP mayors honoring Donovan.
Roseman, however, was at the top of a state panel’s list last week when it declared that a Bergen County judge mistakenly agreed to grant Roseman entry into a pre-trial program that exonerated him of official misconduct and theft charges.
Roseman’s June 2009 indictment came after he was charged with defrauding Carlstadt by not telling borough health administrators about his divorce in 2000. This alleged omission allowed Lori Lewin, Roseman’s ex-wife, to continue benefiting from the mayor’s drug and dental health plan, which cost taxpayers $15,000.
After a three-year struggle with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for his political life, a July 2012 ruling by Bergen County Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi granted Roseman and Lewin, who was also charged, entry into a pre-trial program that dismissed the charges in exchange for 25 hours of community service.
Prosecutors objected to DeAvila-Silebi’s decision, asserting that the ruling was too lenient. As a result of the state’s appeal, the Nov. 20 ruling will now send the matter back to Bergen County Superior Court for reconsideration.
DeAvila-Silebi’s original 2012 decision noted the Carlstadt mayor’s re-election.
“Roseman was re-elected as mayor of Carlstadt on November 2011 despite the public’s knowledge of the charges pending against him,” the decision read. “It is clear that the people of Carlstadt wish to have Roseman as their mayor.”
But the state panel’s decision earlier this month questioned the value of the ballot versus their interpretation of the law.
“Interestingly, the trial judge considered the fact that [the] defendant was reelected after the indictment became known to the public during the mayoral campaign,” read a footnote to the Nov. 20 ruling. “Although the statute and rule do not necessarily delineate all the factors relevant to the calculus, we reject consideration of a public official’s reelection as a fact worthy of consideration.”
Jeanne Baratta, Donovan’s chief of staff, noted that the ruling took place after the event was already planned.
“We’re always concerned with allegations, but we’re not going to make any assumptions until the judicial process makes its review and its conclusion,” Baratta said. “We support the Constitution’s presumption of innocence.”
Roseman could not immediately be reached for comment.