The West New York Board of Commissioners unanimously approved (5-0) a resolution authorizing Scarinci Hollenbeck to file an ethics complaint against a former town attorney – who is suing the board of education for a breach of contract.
“The attorney-client privilege probably dates back to Henry III, right back to the Magna Carta,” Corporation Counsel Donald Scarinci began after being asked about the complaint by Hudson County View.
“It is fundamental between the trust of a lawyer and a client and in the event there is an accusation that that attorney-client privilege has been breached, there’s a confirmative obligation to pursue it and to take it to the appropriate judicial forum in our regulated profession and this will be brought to the Supreme Court.”
Morejon, who was sworn in as an administrative law judge in September 2016, was an early supporter of Mayor Felix Roque when he challenged Sal Vega in May 2011.
While he was immediately appointed as corporation counsel for the Roque administration, Morejon’s relationship with the newly elected mayor quickly soured and he left the post before joining the board of education.
When asked if Morejon had any pending litigation against the town, Scarinci declined to confirm or deny such an action.
“I wouldn’t want to, for the sake of Julio Morejon, who is not here and does not have the ability to speak on his own behalf, I would not want to in any way prejudice him,” Scarinci stated
“This will now go to the appropriate channels and he will have an opportunity to defend himself in those channels. Most of these, when it comes to attorney ethics issues, do occur in private it and we do … want to reserve that opportunity to defend himself.”
Represented by Louis Zayas, whose main office is located in North Bergen, Morejon is suing the West New York Board of Education for breach of contract and violation of the New Jersey RICO statute – alleging that the WNY BOE fits the legal definition of “a criminal enterprise.”
The lawsuit was filed in Hudson County Superior Court last week and it claims that Morejon was terminated from the board after a district employee, Allan Roth, told him that Roque no longer wanted him working there since he was interfering with political patronage jobs.
Also plaintiffs on the suit are Cesar Sabino, a former teacher who was fired due to theft and credit card charges independent of his job, and former BOE paraprofessional Jaime Lourdes - both who claim they were fired for refusing to buy political tickets.
According to the resolution approved by the board of commissioners, Morejon “voluntarily disclosed privileged and/or confidential information to an attorney representing a former Town of West New York Board of Education employee in a civil lawsuit.”
Specifically, the matter in question is Dominque DeMarquet vs. The Town of West New York et. al.
DeMarquet, a former secretary at the BOE who is also represented by Zayas, alleges she was fired for political retaliation back in October 2011.
According to sources familiar with the case, Morejon is currently expected to testify in the DeMarquet matter.
Reached over the phone, Zayas scoffed at the notion that Morejon had violated the attorney client privilege.
“West New York’s decision to file ethics charges against Mr. Morejon is misplaced and motivated primarily at an attempt at a former employee who reported corruption and wrongdoing in West New York,” he said.
“The filing of an ethics complaint against Judge Morejon is again an example of West New York retaliating against those who report or complain of wrongdoing and illegal activities.”
Zayas, a former New York prosecutor, has been a fairly consistent thorn in the side for the Roque administration.
In late 2014, Zayas scored a six-figure settlement from the town for former Police Director Al Bringa, also the attorney for 15 plaintiffs in a racketeering case against West New York which settled for a whopping $1.2 million in July 2016.
Some plaintiffs in that case, as well as DeMarquet, point to a 2013 state Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) report alleging that Roque had a “hit list” aimed at seeking retribution, either through firings or demotions, against his political adversaries.
The Roque administration has denied the allegations in the report on multiple occasions, with Scarinci giving a July 2016 presentation slamming OFAC’s previous claims at the same board of commissioners meeting where the aforementioned racketeering case was settled.