WHEN HUDSON COUNTY WENT OFF THE RAILS AND HOW TO RIGHT THE SHIP
1st Installment in Weekly Corruption Series
In the wake of the aftermath of the supervisor's cluster ****. EdPDLaw examines the history of the Hudson County Department of Corrections to determine where it went wrong and if there is any hope of righting the wrong at this late date. It is clear the the Freeholders have made the commitment to correct the problems plaguing the Department and costing county taxpayers millions in law suit over the years.
The latest blunder leaves the County facing a minimum of 15 law suits from one incident involving the promotion of supervisors. The previous promotion of Tish Nalls-Castillo jeopardized federal funding in the billions of dollars. Kirk Eady produced MULTIPLE law suits and embarrassed the County as he was sent to Federal Prison. The list goes on. Click here to see the tally as of 2014.
The question is, how long can the County afford to keep this up? In this election year, will the tax payers get fed up with the mismanagement that costs them billions of dollars in tax moneys? A loss that not only hits them in their wallet but embarrass them? There is no doubt that one of the challengers for the Freeholder seat in the upcoming election will make sure that all the voters in her County are made aware of the problems. Patricia Waiters, a vocal supporter to end corruption and long time advocate for County employees wants your support. Visit her website here.
The problems with Hudson County and Civil Service can be traced back to 2004 when Hudson County went rogue and decided to ignore Civil Service rules and testing.
HUDSON BACK STORY
The problem began in 2004 when Tom DeGise, County Executive, decided he wanted Oscar Aviles in the top position as the Director of Corrections. This is where the train left the tracks and continued on a collision course with Civil Service rules which became secondary to the County's goal of promoting the "Good Old Boys Network".
The more willing you were to break rules, to lie and cover-up wrong doing on the part of the Administration, and to blindly target officers that Aviles deemed a threat, the more invaluable you became and the higher up the ladder you climbed.
This is the typical Mafia mentality. Civil Service was enacted to protect public employees from this behavior and to assure that promotions are merit based and candidates are actually qualified.
The below excerpt from the 2012 Corruption Report to the Union describes the back story and beginning of the downward spiral of the Department:
Excessive Discipline Protection Database
EdPDLaw Corruption Probe on behalf of Hudson County Correction Officers PBA Local # 109
Officer Luis Ocasio, President – Officer Daniel Murray, Grievance Committee Chairman
DISCIPLINE PRIOR TO PROMOTIONS
Oscar Aviles, Director of Corrections
In October of 2004, Oscar Aviles held the civil service title of Captain but was appointed to the civilian title of Director of Corrections by Hudson County Executive, Thomas A. DeGise to replace Director Ralph Green. Prior to this appointment, in 2002 he served in the civilian title of Deputy Director with Captain Kirk Eady and Captain Calvin Roberts.At this same time, there were 5 Captains on the civil service list for promotion to the civil service title of Deputy Warden:
1.Captain David Krusniz
2.Captain David Matthews
3.Captain Stevette Scott
4.Captain Robert Day
5.Captain Oscar Aviles
Captain Matthews was brought up on disciplinary charges for not completing paperwork properly, was suspended and skipped.Captain Scott was also brought up on disciplinary charges for the same infraction, she received a 30 day suspension and was also skipped.Similarly, Captain Day was brought up on disciplinary charges for not properly completing paperwork, suspended and skipped.These three Captains were all disciplined when Oscar Aviles was in the civilian position of Director.To avoid any appearance of impropriety he did not sign the disciplinary paperwork.
In July of 2007, both Captain Krusniz and “Captain” Oscar Aviles were promoted to the civil service title of Deputy Warden.
Oscar Aviles then stepped down from the civilian Director's position in order to accept the civil service promotion from Captain to Deputy Warden. Since Civil Service mandates that you serve a 90 day working probationary period of aggregate service in that rank for it to be official, Oscar Aviles had to step down from his civilian position for 90 days.In order to preserve his position as “Director” and prevent civilian titled “Deputy Director” Eady from taking that position, Oscar Aviles went back in uniform as a Deputy Warden for approximately 97 days, and Sgt. Keith Stith, from the Prosecutor’s Office became acting Director for this time period. After the 97 days, Sgt. Stith returned to the Prosecutor’s Office after Oscar Aviles once again, successfully manipulated the system to his advantage and returned to the Director's position. On paper Sgt. Stith was in charge, but Oscar Aviles continued to run the jail.
FORMER DIRECTOR OSCAR AVILES
It has been a steady decline since the appointment of Oscar Aviles to the civilian of position of Director of Corrections and Hudson County has steadily moved away from Civil Service testing to promote the "Good Old Boys Network". Hudson County has not had a civil service test for its high level positions in the past 10 years. They let Aviles retire and hired him back.
Former Deputy Director Kirk Eady was in reality only a Captain and then a Confidential Aid. He failed the civil service test that was given for his position, appealed and lost. The County appointed him a "Deputy Director" and told Civil Service he was a Confidential Aide. He has and will continue to cost the County a lot of money in law suits from frivolous discipline, federal wiretapping and contract violations. He also embarrassed the County by getting indicted, a couple raids and eventually went to jail. The County allowed him to retire.
Former Director Tish Nalls-Castillo sued her way to the position of Captain, then appointed to the title of "Deputy Director" and then "Director fo Corrections" and told Civil Service her title was Confidential Aide. She is responsible for a multitude of law suits and cost the County a horrendous amount of money before she embarrassed the County by going off on a racial tirade in public and stepping down. The County allowed her to retire.
Lt. Ronald Edwards somehow ended up being the "Deputy Director" of the jail and holds the Civil Service position of Confidential Aide. Not even officially appointed the "Director" yet, he has made blunder after blunder. He turned a blind eye to the Work Release Overtime Scam and most recently buried his competition on the midnight shift. He is now alleging that Dembowski did not do his job properly (although there were never any complaints lodged against Dembowski). Does any of this remind you of the actions Oscar Aviles took against Captain Stevette Scott or Captain Robert Day?
Does anyone see a pattern here?
This could have all been avoided by simply promoting competent supervisors who tested for their positions.
Now you have 9 displaced supervisors. Who made this decision and why? Where was the fire? What was the urgency? The County could not wait an additional 4 months before calling for a test? Why not? The County could not make those supervisors provisional during those 4 months?
The County wasted so much time and money on this cluster **** and it will only cost them more down the line.
First they make up their own rules and decide that they are going to appoint the officers for a year without pay. That goes to PERC and they are told they cannot do that.
Then they want to backdate their promotion date to qualify for the next test. Nope, can't do that either.
Now they are lying to the supervisors.
In the Chain of Command in dispute resolution, the County is at the bottom. The Appellate Division has removed the supervisors from the list, demoting them. Civil Service must abide by the Appellate Division Decision and has demoted them. Hudson County gets no say in that. Despite the County's belief that they can do whatever they want, however they want to do it, ultimately they are going to end up with another Civil Service fine or worse. $10,000 per head, multiplied by 9 and $1,000 a day for every day they do not comply. That is going to get expensive fast.
What happens to the monies they already paid them?
They buried their senior and now only Captain and senior Lieutenant on the midnight shift.
The retired officers, Oyola, Gaines & Kalb are going to want the promotions they were denied.... retroactively so their pensions will be increased.
And they will have to deal with Helen Ford.... again.
Who is making these horrendously STUPID decisions? Why can't Hudson County follow the rules? I would bet my last dime that all the Courts cringe as soon as they see Hudson County as a litigant, that they shake their head and role their eyes.
There was no reason to pay $40,000 for the Voorhis Robertson Report or $85,000 for an outside, civilian Director to come in. No need for a resolution, or ordinance, as the Department of Corrections is already designated as Civil Service.
Simply pick up the phone, call Civil Service, (609) 292-4144, press prompt #2 and tell them you want a test for the position of Warden and Deputy Warden. Takes less than 60 seconds, costs absolutely nothing.
April 11, 2017
LIEUTENANT AND CAPTAINS DEMOTED, NO PROVISIONAL APPOINTMENTS PROMOTIONAL TEST RE-POSTED
In the wake of the promotion's aftermath and the Appellate Division ruling removing the 9 supervisors from the list they were promoted from, Hudson County has called for another test. The test announcement has been backdated to November 1, 2015. This is the same announcement used for the most current list which came out in December 2016.
The announcement is called an "amended announcement" and states that anyone who signed up for the original test does not need to re-register. We received clarification from Civil Service and those previously tested will not have to take the test again.
Civil Service is treating the test as a "make-up exam" to afford those demoted an opportunity to test and be placed on the current eligibiltity list:
4A:4-2.9 Make-up Examinations
(a) Make-up examinations, except for professional level engineering promotional examinations under (b) below and public safety open competitive and promotional examinations under (c) below, may be authorized for the following reasons:
1. Error by the Civil Service Commission or appointing authority;
This waiver will give the 9 displaced supervisors the opportunity to register and take the test. They will have to take the test and according to their scores, they will be placed on the list in between those with higher scores and those with lower scores.
For example, if Sgt. A 's test score is 75.3, he will be placed on the list below those who have a score of 75.4 and above those who have a score of 75.2.
The announcement closes April 24, 2017 and the test will be scheduled in May. They will not take the same test as the others but will be given a new test.
Those who were eligible for either of these test by November 1, 2015 but did not take the test for any reason, be it they were on vacation, sick, out of town, etc., may take this test with the demoted supervisors.
Civil Service has confirmed that the supervisors have been demoted and that they are not permitted to hold "provisional" appointments because there is already an eligibility list in place. It is unknown what the County is doing as far as their raises are concerned. We will look into that further. They should not show up on any list or roster with the titles that the Appellate Division took away from them.
EDWARDS MOVES HIS ONLY COMPETITOR AND THE ONLY LEGITIMATE
CAPTAIN TO MIDNIGHTS TOGETHER WITH THE SR. LIEUTENANT
After the Appellate Division removed all the rest of the Captains from the eligibility list they were promoted from blocking their promotions, pretend Deputy Director Edwards in a bold and foolish move, transferred Dembowski and Burke to the midnight shift.
Captain Dembowski is the only permanent Captain and was promoted in 2009. Even if you counted the now provisional appointments, Dembowski has seniority. He was also the only true and favorite contender for the position of Director. Pretend Deputy Director Edwards in one clean sweep, retaliated against, and buried Dembowski on the midnight shift where his accomplishments would no longer be visible and Edwards would no longer be threatened. Of course it also just opened the County up to yet another law suit and Unfair Labor Practice.
Edwards did the same thing with Lt. Burke the senior permanent lieutenant.
This retaliatory behavior is expected from Edwards, but I thought they hired Taylor to prevent this and straighten things out? What exactly are you paying him for? To rubberstamp bad decisions or take the fall for them?
Burying your most experienced Captain & Lieutenant on midnights and not using their vast experience for the benefit of the Department is childish. Not only is Dembowski the senior ranking Captain (and the only permanent Captain), he is your highest ranking officer. Why would you not use him for the good of the Department? Are you sending a message to the other supervisors that you will bury them if they resist you? This is classic, Oscar and Nalls behavior which has led to nothing but headaches and lawsuits. The exact behavior that Taylor is being paid $14k a month to prevent.
This move alone proves that Edwards is not the right candidate for the Director's position as he is unable to put the needs and good of the Department above his own insecurities. Now may be a good time to start that nationwide search for competent leadership, and cut your losses with Taylor.
Pretend Deputy Director Edwards was first in line for the Director's position, why did you hire Taylor and throw good money away?
The changes that took place yesterday include moving provisional Captain Geoghagen, the only one that may escape demotion as he is on the current promotional list for captain, from the 6-2 shift to 2-10.
Provisional Captain Yurecko, together with provisional Lt.'s Murrel, D'Andre and Matos, despite having no seniority in grade now and being the junior supervisors, remain on day shift?
The only two supervisors that remain in Administration are Edwards and Conrad (the token black provisional captain that Nalls was trying to push through to Deputy Director). It appears that Conrad may be situated for the Deputy Director's position. A position that Dembowski is more qualified for. This indicates that the position is not going to be merit based but based on race which will give Dembowski a reverse discrimination suit which Novielli has already proven for him. Of course if Conrad does not get it, he will sue claiming discrimination even though he does not have seniority or experience. Since you are getting sued either way, wouldn't you pick the way to minimize your costs? Wouldn't it be nice to win one?
Both Conrad and Murrell are listed as witnesses against the County in Tish Nalls-Castillo's Tort Claim Notice even though they were not present at the scene. They were also complicit in the Warming Center scandal with Castillo, Nall's husband.
Meanwhile, Edwards is promising the 10 misplaced supervisors that they will keep their rank which is nearly impossible given that the Appellate Division ruled that their names were to be removed from the eligibility list they were promoted from. With the exception of Geoghagen, none of the others took the current test for their position, You cannot receive permanent appointment (promotion) if you are not on a list, (unless your name is Ricardo Aviles). It does not appear that there is a way for the 9 misplaced supervisors to get from point A to point B. We are waiting to see what civil service does and expect a decision soon.
DEMOTIONS ORDERED BY THE APPELLATE DIVISION
GO HELEN FORD - IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY!
In a decision released on March 7, 2017, the Appellate Division has reversed the promotions of those who took the promotional test in 2013. In other words, those who took the test without a year in grade are DEMOTED. That would include, Conrad, Geohagen, Yurecko, Morales, D'Andrea, Murrell, Ripp and Matos.
In a law suit filed by Helen Ford, Maria Gaines, Louis Oyola and Robert Kalb, they challenged the validity of the officers who took the test for Captain and Lt. Although Civil Service found in favor of the County and decided that it was ok to usurp the rules and allow those with less than a year in grade to take the promotional test, the Appellate Division disagreed.
The Appellate Division reversed the Civil Service decision negating the promotions. There will also be an issue with the amount of money the effective officers have received in a raise with their promotions, and when they are going to reimburse the tax payers.
This is just another example of Hudson County being unable to follow the rules, and the tax payers having to pay attorney's fees to try and fix their bad decisions. Remember, we are not talking about a "green" legal department or at the time, Director of Corrections (Shout Out to Oscar Aviles). These men have in access of 20 years experience and are making these horrendously stupid and costly decisions with full knowledge of the repercussions.
I guess this is going to greatly shorten the list for Director, as all the Captains are now lieutenants. Oh that is right, Edwards is only a lieutenant.
OSCAR AVILES IS BACK AND UP TO HIS SAME OLD TRICKS
UPDATES ON OVERTIME AND RE-ENTRY STORIES
We have received a large amount of interest and concern surrounding the overtime story and the assignment of the officers to the Re-Entry Program. Everyday we discover more discrepancies which need followed up on. We strongly agree that the Department of Corrections is incapable of policing itself and are packaging our findings to forward to the appropriate outside agencies.
One of our many concerns is with the officers assigned to the Prosecutor's Office. They are clocking a large amount of overtime at the jail while also receiving overtime at the Prosecutor's Office in the form of comp time. C/O Quiros received 869 hours of OT at the jail and 80 hours of OT from the Prosecutor's Office for the same time period. Moreover, C/O Quiros has administrative access to COSS which is the time keeping program for the jail. He also is frequently assigned to work operations in the jail (over 35 times) which gives him another opportunity to generate OT not only for himself but for his friends in Work Release/JEMP and OPS. Click here to view some OT slips where he is paid OT to perform administrative duties in COSS. I'm not sure why administrative duties are being assigned to non-ranking officers.
Another concern surrounds how he received the assignment to the Prosecutor's Office in the first place. Although we have requested the postings announcing the openings for the positions in the Prosecutor's Office, we have not received a response from the County on that issue. Furthermore, it is questionable whether a correction officer can work at the Prosecutor's Office at all given that the PTC certifications are not the same, nor interchangeable. We have reached out to the PTC for clarification and will let you know when we hear back from them.
We checked on the OT received by Internal Affairs. There is only one officer is Internal Affairs and he received 44 hours for the entire year. Click here to view his OT.
For those have lost hope, rest assured that it will take little to no effort for the State to confirm whether the officers were in fact running background checks as they allege in their purported overtime. The use of those systems are closely monitored and many officers have lost their permissions and/or employment for misusing the systems.
The new assignments were predicted when it was discovered that officers were being sent to training. These newly created positions must be posted prior to being filled as per the Contract.
This brings us to the underlying problem with the Department of Corrections, it is incapable of following the rules and believes that the rules do not apply to them. This was first uncovered with the "promotion" of Sgt. Ricardo Aviles when he was in Internal Affairs.
The County eventually called for a test but Aviles did not score high enough on the test to get the promotion. So they just ignored the test and let him continue in the position until they were forced to take action. He was then "pretend" demoted and a position was created for him in Work Release. A position that did not previously exist. The Union grieved and PERC told the County that they could not do that, it had to be posted.
PERC DECISION AR2012-227
Decided August 4, 2012 by: Arbitrator Hartigan
Based upon the above Descussion and Analysis, I find the County did violate the CBA when it assigned Ricardo Aviles to the Work Release Unit. In the fall of 2011 the County created a new supervisory position in the Work Release Unit, thereby creating a vacant position in the Unit. Article XVII.1 provides that when "a vacancy is created, Employees shall be entitled to bid".
It is uncontested that no bid was conducted and the County was in violation of Article XVII.1.
While Sgt. Aviles did not change shifts when reassigned from the Internal Affairs Unit to the Work Release Unit, the trigger for bidding is the creation of a vacancy which as noted occurred when the County determined to add a new supervisory position to the Work Release Unit.
The County is hereby instructed to conduct a bid per the existing bid system as soon as possible.
In the meantime, they also left Sgt. Artie Lambos in the position of Sgt. in Internal Affairs. Civil Service told them they could not do that either.
1. Civil Service Commission records indicate that Ariestides Lambos is currently serving provisionally in the title of Senior Investigator Parole and Secured Facilities.
2. There is a vacancy for the title of Senior Investigator Parole and Secured Facilities and an outstanding certification was issued on June 17, 2011 from list (PC 0797M).
3. The certification has not been properly disposed of and the appointing authority was advised of the required date of disposition.
4. The Certification Manager issued a Notice of Salary Disapproval to the appointing authority and afforded it an opportunity to appeal such action to the Civil Service Commission.
5. No such appeal was taken to the Civil Service Commission, and no proper disposition of the certification was received; the salary disapproval, therefore, became a final administrative action.
6. By not properly disposing of this certification, the appointing authority is in violation of civil service laws and rules.
In the instant matter, the appointing authority has refused to properly dispose of the certification issued to fill the vacancy occupied by a provisional employee. The appointing authority has not contested or appealed the findings of the Certification Manager, contravenes civil service laws and rules.
The Civil Service Commission orders the appointing authority to immediately dispose of the outstanding certification by making a permanent appointment of a reachable and interested eligible.Additionally, the appointing authority is ordered to immediately separate any employee currently serving provisionally pending open competitive examination procedures in the subject title. Such disposition must be filed with the Certification Manager on or before thirty (30) days from the issuance of this order.If no proper disposition is made within this time period, the Civil Service Commission orders the constructive appointment of the interested eligible.
And they kept telling them, and the County kept ignoring them, until eventually Civil Service fined them $10,000.
Therefore, it is ordered that Hudson County properly dispose of the June 17, 2011 certification of the eligible list for Senior Investigator Parole & SecuredFacilities (PC0797M) within 30 days of the issuance of this decision.Additionally, for the reasons stated above, the Commission Orders the assessment of a fine in the amount of $10,000 to be paid within 30 days of the issuance of the decision. Finally, Hudson County is ordered to immediately remit payment of the $1,000 in compliance costs that was previously assessed.
If, at any time, Hudson County again does not adhere to the timeframes for the proper certification disposition without an approved extension of time,this matter will be referred to the Office of the Attorney Generalfor enforcement and recovery of fines and further costs and penalties as provided by law.
This is the final administration determination in this matter. Any further review should be pursued in a judicial forum.
Most recently, they took the same action with the Juvenile Officers. Again, Civil Service, as recently as May of 2016 told them that they could not do that either. EdPDlaw has not followed up on that, but if the past is any indication of what happened, I am guessing that they ignored that as well and will be fined again.
See N.J.A.C. 4A:3-3.4
No person shall be appointed or employed under a title not appropriate to the duties performed nor assigned to perform duties other than those properly pertaining to the assigned title which the employee holds, unless otherwise provided by law or these rules.
This most recent move of officers to the Re-Entry Program is no different than any of the others mentioned above and is going to end in the same result, Civil Service and PERC are going to step in and correct it. All these actions cost money, money that the County has no problem spending because it is not theirs. The same group of Administrators have been doing this for at least 20 years The most recent failed attempt was decided by PERC in 2012 and involved Oscar Aviles' cousin. They were told again in May of 2016. They know its wrong and simply don't care.
The problem is not with the officers, the problem is with the supervisors and the Administration who refuse to follow the rules and then demand respect? Respect is earned, not demanded. The rank and file officers are working diligently to get out from under the stigma of Ricardo Aviles, Kirk Eady and Tish Nalls. Maybe the supervisors should salute them?
Lastly, a word for Director Taylor, Oscar Aviles never gets his hands dirty. He always has someone else do his dirty work; his cousin, Eady, Nalls, Conrad. I find it hard to believe that with all the problems in that jail that your main concern is that the officers (who you have never had the courtesy to introduce yourself to, and who have no idea who you are or why you are there outside of what I have told them) should salute you or any of the other supervisors.
Fix the problems and they will salute you without being ordered to.
EdPDLaw Editorial December 23, 2016
THREE OFFICERS FROM WORK RELEASE ASSIGNED TO THE RE-ENTRY PROGRAM
EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2, 2017
EdPDLaw has learned that effective January 2, 2017, the following work release officers will be assigned to the Re-Entry Program: C/O Samuel Frye - C/O Antwuanette Wilkins and C/O Gilbert Diaz
These are newly created positions that were not posted. These assignments are in DIRECT VIOLATION of your LAP Agreement which has been incorporated in your Contract. Your Union Executive Board should get its head out of the Administration's ass and grieve it on behalf of the membership.
While they are creating and filling new positions, the jail is understaffed to the point where they are having civilians work in officer positions.
December 4, 2016
ROGUE OFFICERS RUNNING THEIR OWN INTERNAL AFFAIRS UNIT - NALLS SIGNS CHARGES AFTER HER RETIREMENT
A select group of supervisors has been conducting its own Internal Affairs Investigations and disposing of them with charges that are signed by former Director Nalls-Castillo after she retired. Apparently, Captain Conrad, Sgt. Eriberto Castillo and Sgt. Dille have been acting on their own. They don't respect the fact that the former Director is no longer around and they no longer have free reign to do as they please. How her signature was placed on charges after her retirement is a mystery unless she is still signing them. Eriberto could just take the charges home and have her sign them, if not, they are cutting and pasting her signature on charges. Anyone who has received charges during the month of November is urged to check the signature. If you have a set of charges signed by her in November, please contact EdPDLaw at (609) 377-5948 or email: email@example.com.
EdPDLaw Editorial November 7, 2016
Hudson County Department of Corrections Signs Up 4 Officers and 2 Supervisors for Investigator Class Without Posting
Edpdlaw has learned that the first thing Deputy Director Edwards did after moving into Nalls-Castillo's office was to sign up 4 officers and 2 supervisors for an Investigator's class being held in Essex County the week of December 4 - 9th. He did not post the class.
Those interested in taking the class should immediately submit a letter stating same. Officers that complete the class will have an advantage over those who do not for all future positions, be it in Work Release, SOG, Internal Affairs, Training, Canine or any future positions. It can also be used to skip the overtime list. According to your Contract(s) appointments to those specialized positions are to be made by seniority UNLESS they require specialized training. Even simple post assignments may be made by training instead of seniority.
From your Contracts:
"assignments are to be made by seniority UNLESS, at the sole discretion of the County, it is determined that particular skills, expertise, training or other necessary skills for the assignment are needed."
Wouldn't you agree that Eriberto Castillo has enough schools, titles and overtime?