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Hopatcong Mayor Violated Ethics Law, State Says

DCA said Sylvia Petillo broke a state local government ethics law when she used borough money to fund a mailing to residents advocating a referendum.

Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo broke a local government ethics law when she spent $2,316.11 of borough funds on a mailing to borough residents urging them to vote "yes" to a referendum last November, the state Department of Community Affairs said.

Petillo attempted to use her position as mayor "to secure an unwarranted privilege or advantage for herself or others," which violated N.J.S.A. 40A: 9.22.5(C), according to a state Local Finance Board notice of violation.

Click to the right for the notice of violation.

The notice wasn't a final determination, however, the state said. Petillo, whose $100 fine was waived because the violation didn't personally benefit her, the state said, has until July 25 to file for a hearing with the board to contest its ruling.

The second-term mayor said she plans to fight the decision.

"They did not explain what the violation was or how I profited by it," Petillo said when reached by phone Thursday. "They have not explained how it personally benefitted me and that's the issue. There was no personal benefit to me or anyone else."

Petillo also defending the mailing, saying she's sent out others that have helped Hopatcong residents over the years.

"When you're having a referendum, people need to understand why you're having a referendum and how it will benefit them," Petillo said later.

In a letter to borough residents before the Nov. 5 election, Petillo advocated a referendum that would .

But, according to the state, Petillo went too far when she twice said in the letter that she recommends residents vote in favor of the referendum. The statements didn't "have an objective factual basis," the state said.

The , 1,493-479.

Randall Paulenich of Hopatcong filed a complaint over the mailing with the DCA earlier in 2012, which led to the investigation and ruling, the state said.

Combining the boards was "a benefit to the taxpayer and a benefit to the applicant," said Petillo, who added the move cut down on legal fees and time residents spent shuffling between the boards.

The move also cuts down on confusion between the zoning and planning boards, which often didn't communicate well, Petillo said.

Roll Back Our Tax July 12, 2013 at 02:23 PM
What ever happened to the 5 postponements of Sylvia's appeals? I counted (4) delays after December postponement up through April 2013 on the agendas posted here. http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dlgs/programs/lfb.html#1......Guess the DCA got tired of waiting and the charges stuck.
Roll Back Our Tax July 16, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Maybe she should resign like they had to do in other states West Virginia - http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/22530512/ethics-settlement-will-send-beckley-mayor-packing "Mayor Emmett Pugh will step down on Dec. 31 under a settlement involving nine alleged ethics violations. While Pugh admits no guilt, he will reimburse the West Virginia Ethics Commission $7,000 for the cost of the investigation and agree to not hold public office for five years, The Register-Herald reported Friday". Ohio - http://www.19actionnews.com/story/20759921/mayfield-heights-mayor-pleads-guilty-to-ethics-violations "19 Action News is on the case of soon-to-be resigned Mayfield Heights Mayor Gregory Costabile. The Mayor wasn't in a talking mood when we asked him for a comment on his ethics law violations as he was walking into court Tuesday morning. Costabile was supposed to have an initial appearance, but in a deal with prosecutors, the case ended quickly".
Roll Back Our Tax September 30, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Wonder what happened to those appeals the Mayor made to try and clear herself? Wonder if now Hopatcong can have a voter recall? Wonder now if she's unable to hold public office for 5 years. Wonder....wonder...wonder. Maybe we'll soon know. Right JP??? https://www.facebook.com/HopatcongSpartaNJPatch/posts/334489373301463 ...."I know I'm going to make a few democrats angry with what I'm about to say, (it’s not my intention) but I'm compelled to comment. I don't believe for a minute that Mayor Petillo made a conscience decision to break the rules, I believe the mayors heart is in the right place, and she is really trying to do the right thing, BUT as the old saying goes its hard to soar like an eagle when your surrounded by turkeys. Galanti and Bunce, they want us to believe they’re team players, and experts in all things government, but why didn’t they stop this mailing? Did they want the mayor to fail? Or did they just not know the law? Too me that's even worst. For the record, I don’t approve of how they did this or the restructuring to create this new land use board, so with that being said, I feel sad for the mayor that they left her to take the heat alone, when we all know this was a group effort. Mayor Petillo, if I’m elected, I will bring to the table the view of the blue collar worker, I can put partisan politics aside to move Hopatcong forward for the betterment of all our citizens, but be forewarned I’m not a yes man, I take the publics trust very serious. I for one will be praying for a positive result in this matter, when this is behind us the next great thing I could hope for is that the people of Hopatcong allow me the privilege to serve them on the council. Good luck mayor and god bless". Will you vote for a recall if elected to Council when the subject comes up JP?

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