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State probe of official in Hoboken

Hoboken's chief construction officer is under investigation by the state Department of Community Affairs for alleged ethics violations, according to several sources.

Investigators from the DCA visited Alfred Arezzo's city office roughly two weeks ago to pick a number of documents, the sources said. The DCA confirmed there is an ongoing investigation, but refused to provide details. The state's uniformed construction code gives the DCA jurisdiction over the state's construction offices, but it does not conduct criminal investigations.

Hoboken pol admits DUI 'lapse'

HOBOKEN - City Councilman Christopher Campos, who was arrested Saturday morning in Manhattan on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, admitted to the crime through his lawyer yesterday and said it will never happen again.

"My client realizes that this was a lapse in judgment and admits that he made a mistake. He will pay the appropriate penalty for this mistake and wants to assure everyone that this will never happen again," said the statement, released by his attorney, Francis S. Cutruzzula.

Minutes took months to OK

The Board of Education delayed a decision last week to vote to approve minutes of three closed meetings - from 2005.

The minutes are of two closed executive session meetings held on Aug. 30, 2005, and another one on Sept. 6 of that year.

Board members raised questions about the accuracy of the minutes, particularly after Board Secretary David Anthony said no tape existed for a controversial session in which four members had got up and walked out early - so the minutes were pieced together from the recollections of those who remained.

Suit: Hospital takeover process too secret

HOBOKEN - An activist is suing the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority and the city, alleging that the ongoing transfer of St. Mary Hospital from its present owners has been less than transparent.

Hoboken resident Elizabeth Mason filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in early December, alleging the defendants did not provide adequate notice of two meetings - one in September, the other in October - as required under the Sunshine laws.

St. Mary probe costs 9 their jobs

An internal investigation into a payroll scam at St. Mary Hospital has led to the termination of nine employees and a criminal investigation by the state Attorney General's Office, hospital officials said.

Bon Secours Health System Inc., which is nearing completion of a deal that would hand over the hospital to the city, launched the investigation in October after it feared more than $1 million in fraudulent overtime and bogus bonuses were being dished out in the payroll department.

Group pushes ordinance on pay-to-play

 A non-partisan civic group is pushing for the city to adopt an ordinance that would extend pay-to-play prohibitions to developers.

The proposal is very similar to a proposal made last week by Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop for his city.

Both ordinances would essentially bar developers from contributing to local politicians once the city decides to study an area for redevelopment, until a developer is chosen and the project is complete.

"We're not an anti-development group," said Eric S. Kurta, president of the Hoboken-based People for Open Government. "We are just curious about the city's intentions when it comes to areas in need of redevelopment."

State approves $52 million bond for St. Mary Hospital

The state Local Finance Board voted unanimously today to approve Hoboken's backing of a $52 million bond to rescue St. Mary Hospital.

If the city's newly-created autonomous Municipal Hospital Authority fails to turn the the facility's fortunes around, the city taxpayers could be on the hook for $10 million after the hospital has sold off it assets, according to Mark Pfeiffer, deputy director of the state Division of Local Services.

Hoboken cop's lawsuit: I complained, bosses retaliated

HOBOKEN - A police sergeant has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging a pattern of harassment and retaliation that started after he complained about not getting promoted.

Lawyers for Sgt. Kevin Houghton, who joined the force in 1984, filed the suit in U.S. District Court at the end of November, alleging he was repeatedly passed over for promotion to lieutenant, denied leave, and assigned to undesirable duties - such as working the evening shift in an unsafe housing office and being assigned to foot patrol.

Lynch sentenced to 39 months in prison

A federal judge this morning sentenced former state Senator John Lynch to 39 months in prison for taking kickbacks from a developer, a move that will put one of the most influential political figures in New Jersey in recent years behind bars.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler said he hoped that other public officials in New Jersey "will get the message" as he meted out the punishment in federal court in Newark, three months after the longtime Democratic boss from Middlesex County pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion.

Ex-congressman may go to 'Club Fed' if he's lucky

Trading up to a Rancho Santa Fe mansion helped get former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham into trouble. Now, it looks like he'll have to trade down to a barracks he'll share with 100 other men.

Instead of 10 armoires, Cunningham's belongings will have to fit in a locker.

And he can say goodbye to sleigh beds. In his new residence, he'll have to heave himself onto a thin mattress on the top bunk, where the new guys always get stuck.