Bayonne attorney, former business administrator, disbarred
Longtime Bayonne attorney Peter J. Cresci was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the State of New Jersey on March 21, according to a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Cresci was disbarred for mishandling an attorney trust account after being suspended in November 2016. In December of 2015, Cresci entered a pretrial intervention program after pleading guilty in a September 2013 in a case in which he forged a signature on a settlement agreement, resulting in unlawfully taking $25,000 from a client.
Cresci is also infamous in Bayonne for botching a case that would have allowed the family of a father and daughter who died in a tragic car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike to sue the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Pam O’Donnell, the wife and mother of the victims, who became a safe-driving activist, sued Cresci, alleging he failed to submit a notice of tort to the NJ Turnpike Authority. The civil lawsuit, filed in late January 2018, followed the tragic death of O’Donnell’s daughter, Bridget, 5, and husband, Timothy, 48. In the suit, O’Donnell alleges that Cresci mailed the tort claim to the wrong address, and failed to mail the claim to the correct address within the 90-day statutory limitation. The civil suit claims Cresci’s actions prevented her from “recovering full, fair and just compensation,” and charges him with three counts of malpractice and seeks various compensatory damages. The suit also lists as defendants three law firms in Cresci’s name and a number of John Doe attorneys.
Cresci, once a frequent attendee at Bayonne City Council meetings and critic of Mayor James Davis and his administration, was behind many cases against the city since his departure from the Bayonne Parking Authority, where he worked as the department’s attorney and interim director.
In 2015, he represented three former employees who sued, alleging their layoffs were not made in good faith. In 2016, after he was suspended from practicing law, Cresci called his suspension’s timing “questionable,” suggesting it was carried out in “retaliation and reprisal” for his role in suing the city for wrongful layoffs.
Bayonne fined for lead-contaminated soil
The Bayonne municipal government was fined $15,000 after contaminated historic fill material was found during construction work on city-owned property on LeFante Way, according to city officials. Historic fill material, used by many New Jersey municipalities, is used to fill in coastal areas in order to elevate the site.
In the process of repairing LeFante Way, behind South Cove Commons, construction workers found hazardous soil, later deemed to be historic fill, that was contaminated with lead.
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection issued a $20,000 fine, but the city and the state settled for $15,000.
Goat heads and dead sheep found on Bayonne’s shoreline
Two severed goat heads and a sheep carcass were found on the western shoreline of Bayonne on March 17 and 18, prompting confusion, speculation of sacrificial rituals, and a police investigation. A group of children found one of the goat heads and the sheep carcass at 16th Street Park on March 18, while another goat head was found near Veterans Stadium, a few blocks north. Police recovered only one goat head, and are unsure whether the severed heads resulted from a prank, a ritual, or something else entirely. Keeping livestock in Jersey City and Bayonne is illegal, which raises further questions.
Most New Jersey stores and restaurants must accept cash now
On March 18, New Jersey became the second state to require businesses to accept cash payment at brick-and-mortar stores. Massachusetts was the first, in 1978. Advocates say the bill was motivated by communities whose access to credit or debit cards is not guaranteed: 17 percent of black households and 14 percent of Latino households did not have a bank account in 2017. The law applies to most stores. Parking garages, car rental businesses, and select shops in airports may still operate as “cashless” establishments.
Report: businesses owned by foreign-born people have $4.4 billion impact
New Jersey should thank immigrant-owned businesses for contributing $4.4 billion to the state’s economy, according to a report released on March 18 by New Jersey Policy Perspective. The survey found that 47 percent of businesses statewide are owned by immigrants. “This despite the fact that immigrants make up only 22 percent of the state’s population,” the report says.
Should bus drivers administer EpiPens?
The Senate unanimously passed a bill last week that would train school bus drivers to carry and administer EpiPens to children in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). The bill now moves to the Assembly. New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut have passed similar bills.
Ex-prison guards can now patrol schools, armed
A law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on March 18 will allow former prison guards and other retired law enforcement officers to apply for work as armed guards in public schools. Though it passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously, some skeptics like the National School Climate Center warned that the move to place corrections officers in schools could create a hostile or militaristic environment that is less conducive to learning.
The Bayonne school district recently installed more security features, including cameras, metal detectors, and security wands. In October, the BBOED voted to allow some security guards to carry a loaded gun. The number of security guards at the Bayonne school district has increased from nine last year to 12 this year, and the amount of security aid from the state has been raised from $700,000 to $3 million.