Sources: Hoboken Housing Authority OK’s $700k settlement with ex-director


The Hoboken Housing Authority approved a $700,000 lawsuit settlement for Carmelo Garcia, a former executive director of the agency, at last month’s meeting as both parties wait for approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

Carmelo Garcia

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The HHA approved the agreement at their November 9th meeting, two days after the hotly contested municipal elections where Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla was elected as mayor.

“This is a resolution approving the settlement in the mater entitled Garcia versus the Hoboken Housing Authority in accordance with terms set forth in an appropriate agreement subject to approval by HUD and adequate funding from the carrier,” according to a transcript from the meeting.

The measure passed by a vote of 4-0(2), with Commissioners Barbara Reyes and LaTrenda Ross abstaining, while Commissioner Judy Burrell was absent.

Back in May 2016, Garcia and the HHA filed dueling lawsuits against each other, with the former state Assemblyman alleging he was fired for not advancing Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s political agenda.

The HHA countered that Garcia violated HUD guidelines by being the only person responsible for approving or denying procurement contracts, also claiming that at least four contractors that violated the procurement policy contributed to Garcia’s Assembly campaign.

Garcia named Zimmer, her husband Stan Grossbard, Burrell, along with current HHA Commissioners Dave Mello, also an outgoing councilman-at-large, James Sanford, and David Denning – the current board chairman.

According to public court records, the City of Hoboken and Mello were dismissed from the suit on June 19th of this year.

Garcia also named Jake Stuiver and Dana Wefer, two former board chairs, in the suit, the latter of which led the charge to have him fired in August 2014.

His termination came to fruition after a protest and a tumultuous HHA meeting, which requited a hefty police presence, hosted at City Hall.

The suit was the third of its kind filed by Garcia, who received national attention in 2013 when he filed the first version of his wrongful termination suit, initially claiming that the Zimmer administration engaged in “ethnic cleansing” by ridding the city of minority leaders.

That suit was dismissed without prejudice in December 2013.

The political saga that was built around the lawsuit arguably hit a crescendo in October 2015, 11 days prior to municipal elections where Garcia was seeking the 6th Ward council seat, after dozens of emails between Grossbard and members of the HHA board were leaked to the press.

As Hudson County View reported, Grossbard advised then-HHA Chairman Stuiver to threaten to terminate Garcia to help negotiate a new procurement policy in a March 7th, 2013 email exchange, but he did not heed the advice and Garcia remained the HHA executive director for another 17 months.

Garcia ended up coming up short against then-Zimmer ally and 6th Ward incumbent Jen Giattino.

“I think the parties made an intelligent decision to resolve their differences in this matter,” Louis Zayas, Garcia’s attorney in the case, said over the phone.

While Zayas declined to say the amount the case settled for, three sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on the matter, confirmed the $700,000 figure with Hudson County View.

Since the city had previously been dismissed from the suit, the housing authority will be responsible for paying out the entirety of the settlement.

Although they were sued personally, Zimmer and Grossbard will also not be paying into the settlement, sources said.

This isn’t the first time Zayas has reached a six-figure settlement for a Hoboken client.

Back in February 2015, the Hoboken City Council approved a $700,000 agreement for ex-Public Safety Director Angel Alicea.

A Hudson County Superior Court jury awarded Alicea just over a million dollars on December 18th, 2013, but the city appealed the decision.

Not everyone involved in the case appears to be thrilled with the HHA board’s recent decision, as Wefer, who has recently moved to Bergen County, called the move “a travesty.”

“This is a travesty for the residents of the housing authority, who have been victimized by Carmelo Garcia twice now. The civic justice system and public insurance system are broke and in need of serious reform,” she told Hudson County View in a text message.

All the other parties named in the suit did not return multiple inquiries seeking comment, while a HUD spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

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  1. Perhaps Ms.Wefer should not have given interviews on the subject while litigation was ongoing. I understand she was trying to build a political career but no lawyer would advise a client to give interviews while they were being sued. Perhaps something she said during these interviews damaged the HHA’s legal position.

    It’s a shame, this money should be going to fix problems in the HHA but instead due to unforced errors or mistakes it’s going into the pocket of someone who harmed the HHA for years.

    • For politicians to fight a bad guy who took advantage of the most vulnerable population in Hoboken and then bail out to save themselves is a disgrace.

      It’s all about getting out clean before Mayor Zimmer’s term ends and stiffing the HHA residents with 100% of the bill.

      Great job!

      • alt-right phony pretending he cares about the poor. should have thought about the poor before you put on knee pads for donald trump. ben carson didn’t say a word when the hud budget was cut by $6billion. roman could care less. thus is pure politics from a cynical has-been.

        • Who’s turn is it to watch Ravi’s lunatic leftist paid operative? She escaped out of the dark dungy cave again! Start weaving your magic of lies and defamation Nancy. Ravi didn’t pay you $600 per hour for filling out a little hand out card.

          Look at all the time your wasting here when you need to be creating new lies attacking Peter, Jen and Tiffanie.

          There’s a whole lot of damage control to do now that your political bosses are paying off Carmelo and taking care of themselves on the way out the door!

          • Pay one for a hand card and win. Or pay Roman for advertising on his dead alt right blog and lose. Bonus, you get to watch him still crying about it months after the fact.

          • Yes, those $600 an hour election cards won the election for Ravi. Obviously.

            Nothing to do with over $500,000 in Ravi’s campaign funds mostly from outside Hoboken, his PAC monies and that little operation the final weekend with that terrorism flier putting him over the top.

          • No, Ravi won because Tiffanie Fisher, Roman Brice and Kurt Gardiner were secretly supporting him. There really is no other explanation for their actions and Ravi could never have won without their help. And to think he didn’t have to pay them a dime. Its just so unfair.

  2. Looks like a few commissioners, political puppets and shadowy behind the scenes politicians really screwed this up.
    Maybe if some commissioners had not been so afraid of Garcia or had past DEEP and PERSONAL connections the HHA and city could have fought the case.
    Is Wefer’s interview more damaging than those emails directing the chair who went AWOL worse?

    The politicians and their spouses get off while the taxpayers get screwed. Hopefully the Bhalla administration won’t have a shadow leader

  3. Nothing to see here folks… keep movin’ along….”He strongly advocates for terminating the contract: “unless and until you move to terminate, Carmelo has all the leverage, and he will never believe you actually are willing to terminate unless and until you actually do it.”

    Grossbard also says that Garcia should not be fired, but he should be drafted a new contract with salary increases and paid time off more consistent with other authorities in the state.”

    • the real issue is one of jealousy and Zimmer Grossbard and Bhalla wanting to control every board both muni, federal and nonprofit. The admin pushed against advancement of the 2020 plan for the Housing Authority sheerly out of wanting the credit. See the Council tape where Bhalla refuses to appoint a qualified member because he is not clear that she will rubber stamp his desire along w Grossbard to remove Garcia.

      • How is it that you were so close to the biggest criminals in town and to this day you didn’t figure out Vision Money Money was a scam?

        Qualified member? That was the queen of the Carmelitos. Unlike other HHA residents, she never renounced supporting the person screwing over the residents and treating them like his proles.

  4. I am thinking the lawyers will walk away with more of the loot than anyone.

    Having the trash hauled away is sometimes expensive but worth every penny considering the alternative is living with the filth.

  5. Wise decision by the HHA and Chairman Dening to settle this case and put this sorry history behind them.

    I’m glad Roman Brice turned out to be wrong about pretty much everything. I was really worried that the cost would be nearly $1 million like he first wrote or much more like he wrote later. That makes $700,000 seem like a steal even though it’s still alot of money.

    Good thing MSM outlets like HCV exist to get out the real story.

    • Look at the political sycophants cheering on Carmelo getting a huge pile of dough after terrorizing residents and leaving the HHA in shambles! A steal? Yes, this is definitely stealing. Where else but in Hoboken can a crook be paid nearly seven figures for an “ethnic cleansing” lawsuit.

      This is an absolute disgrace! Last month, MSV broke the story and said it was under a million. It turned out to be true and is under a million.

      Didn’t see anything on this anywhere else. The coverup was broken! Certainly wouldn’t show up on the paid operative website for Ravi.

        • Hi PaidOP Nancy, I’m not Horsey but boy does he have you green with envy! Too bad he broke the coverup on all this. Hey, not so bad. At least you won’t have to be defending Michael Russo as Council President. He busted up that little Ravi party too.

          • You destroyed your candidate and act like you won. No one reads your dead website. No one cares what you say. You’re the only one dumb enough to expect to be envied.

          • Nancy you’re really good at Hoboken411 lite. Not bad at making up your phony characters you call sources to go with your fake stories. You can make up all the lies you want now.

            Too bad MSV and HCV got this story and you are the Hoboken411 trying to cover it up. Hey I heard Jen Giattino sent out her electric bill two days late. You should get right on that!

            No one cares about your Ravi clown show. It’s just you and your handful of pals and all your multiple screen names attacking people who have done outstanding work for Hoboken. No one gives two craps what you want.

          • You aren’t interested in the HHA story for what it is which yet another grifter getting paid off in a nuisance law suit. You’re only interested in using it to cry about the election. Meanwhile the city is going back to run offs to benefit a guy who hasn’t done his financial reports yet and owes his ass to the trade unions. No reporting about that on your dead website. That’s why it’s a dead website. If you can’t cry about it, you don’t report it. But why explain it to someone who doesn’t see how saying stinkus makes him sound like a little school boy.

          • GA and HCV waited until actual facts were available and got the story right. Roman Brice put on his tinfoil hat, got pretty much everything wrong and exposed himself as both a lunatic and a fraud. Poor Roman. SAD!

  6. How come 90% of the comments in this thread are about Roman Brice and not the topic of the article? I’d be very interested to learn more about this topic and hear different perspectives and insights. I am not interested in reading about Roman Brice. A word to the wise – when insisting on your own relevance is your topic dujour, on every topic, in every thread, every day of every week, that’s how you know for sure you’re irrelevant.

    • The reason the Horse is popping up all over this and other stories is obvious. First, he broke this story. Said Carmelo Garcia was going to reap under a million last month for that garbage “ethnic cleansing” lawsuit and it’s true. It was being kept secret from the public so Ravi didn’t get hurt in the election.

      Second, Horse lives rent free in the heads of the power structure. He’s guilty of pissing them off with breaking news. Not a big deal since there’s really no serious news coverage in Hoboken but on Hudson County View and the Horse’s MSV website.

      Who broke the news on the Ravi Bhalla union PAC? Was it Horse or Hudson County View. They both covered it.

      • throwing kurt’s blog under the bus already, eh? you have no coverage of run off change. no coverage of elec other than ravi. you won’t have coverage of sores being put back on the sewer authority for purely political reasons because its ok when your friends do it. graphics had the hha settlement first. you are only first with the fake news portion. but you are always first with praising donald trump.

      • Actually Roman Brice wrote that the settlement was “almost 7 figures which was not true. He wrote that it had yet to be approved when it had been approved 3 weeks earlier at a public meeting. Then he wrote that it was $1.2 or $1.3 million with the City, Mayor Zimmer and her husband footing $900,000 of it which was not true. Now he’s writing that it was kept secret until after the election to help Ravi which is also not true, unless he thinks David Dening, chairman of the HHA and Giattino’s treasurer was secretly trying to help Ravi. Among supposed Jen supporters, only benedicthorse and his idiot partner were helping Ravi. Mr. Dening, on the other hand, an honorable man, was an asset to her campaign.

        Roman is living rent free in his own sad delusional world. I wish his imaginary world were a happier place for him but unfortunately it’s not.

      • usually only thing covered is politics. there are other types of news to cover in hoboken. for instance no mention of sexual assault on your blog, fine, not your job, but please don’t pretend you’re covering the whole town