Despite retirement, county still dealing with repercussions of jail director scandal

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Although Hudson County Department of Corrections Director Tish Nalls-Castillo retired on November 1, the county is still dealing with fallout from a July incident where she allegedly went on a racist tirade that occurred during a traffic stop by a Hudson County Sheriff’s officer.

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders Thursday night, the governing body voted 2-6 against authorizing a public hearing on the discipline of Nalls-Castillo.

Jersey City Freeholders Gerard Balmir (D-3) and Bill O’Dea (D-2) voted yes and Freeholder Al Cifelli (D-9) was absent.

As Hudson County View first reported, the now former county director filed for her retirement with the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits on July 28, 2016 – effective November 1.

Police radio transmissions from the July 18 traffic stop did not provide much clarity on the matter, though a police report from the incident alleges she called the stopping officer a “white motherf***er getting all these people killed.”

Nalls-Castillo’s attorney, Randy Davenport, of Elizabeth, inquired as to whether or not his client had a right to appeal her punishment.

“Since the request for public hearing was voted down, the correspondence provided to me directing procedure to be followed for an appeal to take place – which is the procedure that I followed – which has now been voted down,” he began.

“So the question is: is the procedure in place for at least a closed appeal to take place? And I followed up with correspondence requesting an appeal of the discipline.”

Although county counsel believed the only way to appeal had been shot down, Jersey City Freeholder E. Junior Maldonado (D-4) said he was under the impression an appeal could still take place during closed session.

As a result, Hudson County View later asked the board for clarification on the resolution, particularly why the matter was still being heard after Nalls-Castillo’s retirement and what the process would be for hiring the next director.

“If an individual is suspended for, whatever, in this case three days, or in this instance they took three days of vacation time away from an individual and that individual subsequently retires – within the time frame allowed under the law – that individual still has the right – as Director Nalls’ attorney did at the last meeting – prior to her retirement to request that the board conduct a public hearing,” explained O’Dea.

He went on to say that in the event that the board approved the public hearing, it would be possible for a disciplinary decision to be reversed.

O’Dea added that an interim jail director would likely be named at the next freeholder meeting.

We were also able to catch up with Davenport before he left the building to get his take on the matter, expressing that the previous accusations made against Nalls-Castillo were “totally false and fabricated.”

The next Hudson County jail director will be the third one in about a year-and-a-half, as Oscar Aviles retired on August 1, 2015 and Nalls-Castillo succeeded him in January of this year.