The Union City Board of Education and the Hudson County Superintendent of Elections likely paid a woman employed by both agencies for working the same hours on multiple days, based on a private investigation that includes surveillance footage and payroll records.
Vivian Joaquin is a security guard for the Thomas A. Edison Elementary School in Union City, as well as an investigator for the county superintendent of elections.
Those two positions earn her an annual salary of $45,165 and $31,306, respectively ($76,471 total), and both require a 35- to 40-hour work week, according to East Coast Private Investigations President Joe Blaettler.
Blaettler and his office spent over two years looking into how Joaquin, the sister of state Senator (D-33)/Mayor Brian Stack’s significant other, Mercedes Joaquin, could fulfill the responsibilities that both jobs necessitate.
Blaettler, a longtime nemesis of Stack and former deputy chief of police in Union City, told us that this is a clear example of political patronage since payroll records, timesheets and sign in sheets show that Vivian Joaquin has gotten paid for being at both jobs at the same time on various occasions.
In some other instances, she has used sick days at one job only to end up working at the other.
In 2017, these sort of discrepancies occurred 26 times and then 22 more times in 2018, based on extensive documentation and surveillance footage shared with HCV.
“Coincidentally, after we filed our OPRA request, the board of education filed this order and they changed Vivian’s hours. She was working, like every other [Union City BOE] security guard, she was working from 7:50 [a.m.] to 2:50 [p.m.],” Blaettler explained in a sit down interview.
“Once I filed my OPRA request, they reduced her work day by an hour, from 8:30 [a.m.] to 2:30 [p.m.], it’s unclear to me why they would reduce her work hours, one hour a day, five hours a week, but they didn’t reduce her salary.”
Furthermore, Blaettler said the her bosses at the county explained that Joaquin typically works evenings and weekends and that no records were kept of her schedule or relevant investigations, other than punched timecards and daily attendance record sheets.
In addition to the public records released, ECPI ran multiple surveillances on Joaquin in an attempt to confirm their suspicions that she was being paid for work she didn’t perform.
For example, on May 26th, 2017, she used a personal day from the superintendent of elections, but was still scheduled to work security at the school.
However, video footage shows her having lunch in North Bergen at 1:30 p.m. on that day, when she would’ve typically been set to work at the Edison school for at least another hour.
Then, on June 8th, 2018 Joaquin was spotted shopping at TJ Maxx in Edgewater around 11 in the morning, the same time she was supposed to be working security and also signed into the superintendent of elections, records show.
More common are instances where she begins working one job when she is supposed to still be at the other, such as on October 5th, 2018, where her punch cards and sign in sheets indicate she was at the superintendent of elections from 9:01 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. – even though she is usually working for the Union City BOE at that time.
A spokesman for the Union City BOE declined to comment on the data, noting that the district’s public schools are closed this week and therefore it would be impossible to review anyone’s work records.
Additionally, several representatives from the superintendent of elections did not return emails or calls seeking comment.
Blaettler, who said he forwarded all of his research to the state Attorney General’s Office after sitting down with investigators from their agency, doubled down that the documentation speaks for itself.
“I think the taxpayers need to be a little concerned how this money’s being spent, how one person has two full-time government jobs and why the Union City Board of Education and Hudson County Board of Elections cannot account for her hours,” he said.
“ … It’s typical Hudson County: if you’re politically connected, you get away with whatever you want. If you have no political connections, they want to hang you.”
A spokesman for the state AG’s office did not immediately return an inquiry seeking comment, though their policy is almost always not to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.