Seven months after the Union City Housing Authority terminated the services of counsel Julio Morejon, the board says they are still waiting on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide an update on the matter.
After weeks of controversy last year, the board terminated Morejon at their June 30th meeting, citing a letter from HUD that called Morejon’s contract “legally flawed” as their primary reason.
He made approximately $98,000 in work performed for the UCHA in 2014, with the board arguing his salary cap should’ve been $44,000.
At last night’s meeting, the board approved a 60-day contract for high-powered Lyndhurst law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck, who is being represented by Krystle Nova and is the same firm that’s been retained since Morejon was ousted by the board.
Hudson County View inquired as to what the provisions of the contract entailed ($150 per hour, not to exceed $4,000 dollars a month).
While it seemed like a fairly open and shut case, one member of the public, Bob Castillo, who lives all the way in Tabernacle, questioned the board relentlessly on the subject.
After Nova said that the board has not received a status update from HUD, Castillo said the situation had the appearance of “bid rigging” and asked if the Office of the Inspector General or the FBI had questioned members of the board.
As the questioning began to wind down, Board Chairman Marty Martinetti reiterated that HUD stated they would be performing “a comprehensive review” of the authority shortly after Morejon was terminated, but they have not received an update since then.
Agency CFO Rafael Natera, who is also serving as the acting executive director, for no additional pay, in light of Virgil Cabello’s retirement (though he is temporarily serving as a consultant until a full-time replacement is found) added that he considers the matter closed since HUD hasn’t brought up the subject of Morejon in months.
“We welcome HUD’s involvement in any way,” Martinetti said at the conclusion of Castillo’s remarks.
Morejon told Hudson County View over the phone what he told us in person seven months ago: that he was only paid for work that he performed and added he feels the contract was ambiguous in terms of a salary cap.
Finally, he said that HUD never explicitly stated to terminate his services in their June 30th letter.
HUD’s Newark office did not return multiple calls seeking comment on Friday.