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Pay-to-play contract suit to be heard, $1,000 political donation made to Freeholder Anthony Romano
Pay-to-play contract suit to be heard. $1,000 political donation made to Freeholder Anthony Romano
December 02, 2009 Jersey Journal
Hudson County Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli is scheduled to hear arguments tomorrow on whether Hudson County improperly awarded a contract for prison medical services.
CFG Health Systems of Evesham filed a suit last month accusing the county of circumventing the law when it awarded the contract to a campaign donor to a freeholder and a former county employee.
A $1,000 political donation made to Freeholder Anthony Romano (District 5- Hoboken) should have disqualified the winning company from bidding, CFG contends, adding in other counts that the whole process violated the Local Public Contracts Law. CFG officials say they believe their suit is the first to use the state's pay-to-play law to challenge a contract.
Geoffrey Perselay, president of Correctional Health Services of Verona and a former county administrator who once served as acting jail warden, made the donation on May 30, 2008. The contract was awarded to his company in April of this year.
The suit charges that the state's pay-to-play law prohibited the county from awarding a contract above $17,500 to a business that had made a reportable contribution to an elected county official within the previous year. The suit also alleges that after the bids came in high - CHS bid $29.7 million and CFG bid $38.3 million - the contract was drastically amended, but not rebid.
CHS was awarded a $22 million contract to provide medical services at the county jail and juvenile detention center.
At the time, Freeholder Bill O'Dea, of Jersey City, asked County Counsel Donato Battista whether the contract violated the pay-to-play law and if it could be rebid.
In a memo, Battista said it did not violate the law because it was awarded through the fair and open process.
Battista also said the Board of Freeholders could not rebid the contract because state law prohibits competitive contracts from exceeding a five-year period unless a contract is pending.
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