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Embattled Police Director Gets Another Five Years on Powerful Parking Authority Board

Tony Caputo Retired From Police Director Job in 2010, Returned to Power in 2011
Anthony Caputo
Tony Caputo doesn't attend City Council meetings, but you can always find him at the Parking Authority Board of Commissioners. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's police director will continue to serve on the New Brunswick Parking Authority's Board of Commissioners for a full five-year term, after the city council unanimously approved his re-appointment last week.

Police Director Anthony Caputo retired in 2010 and, in addition to $376,234 in unused sick and vacation pay, Caputo received another parting gift: a coveted appointment to serve on the powerful parking authority.

Mayor James Cahill decides who serves on the authority's board, but his appointments require City Council approval.

Caputo, one of the only city department heads that does not attend City Council meetings, splits his time between leading the city's embattled police department and serving as the Parking Authority's 1st Vice Chariman, responsible for overseeing an annual $34 million budget.

Council President Rebecca Escobar downplayed the responsibility of serving on the authority board, before approving Caputo for the appointment.

"He has been there before, he's been able to manage it.  I don't see any conflict with it," said Escobar when asked about the appointment by activist Tormel Pittman.

"It's on a volunteer basis... It's once a month that they meet for an hour, two hours," said Escobar.  "So it's not a job."

Caputo has served as one of five volunteer members on the authority's board as it became one of the biggest commercial landlords in New Brunswick and built two enormous parking garages to replace the Ferren parking deck.

After a widespread theft scandal cast a shadow over the Parking Authority in late 2010, Cahill appointed another law enforcement veteran, former Trenton cop Anthony Barber Jr. to the board.

Barber's wife Claribel Azcona-Barber is a secretary for Mayor Cahill.

Just 15 months into his retirement, Caputo was rehired as police director and currently earns a $122,400 salary, in addition to a $115,019 annual pension for his first 26 years of service.

Caputo's wife Donna is the city's Recycling Coordinator and earns a salary of $57,521, and has been with the city since 1994.

Caputo has endured numerous scandals since re-assuming the top position in the embattled department, including a police killing of an unarmed man, a corruption scandal in the internal affairs division, and numerous lawsuits against the department.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Garlatti, whose husband Louis serves on the authority board, said she was "extremely confident" in Caputo's re-appointment to the authority board.

The authority's five-member board has served as proving ground for City Council candidates, helping propel two former members into elected office since 2010: Kevin Egan and John Anderson.

For many years, and perhaps for the entire duration of its existence, the parking authority's board has been comprised exclusively of older white males.