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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Following an investigation into claims that he sexually harrassed women who worked for him, Mario Vargas quietly resigned from his executive director position at the Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB) last month, according to a source.
The source has indicated that Vargas’ alleged behavior was the subject of an internal investigation that yielded evidence he had inappropriate relationships with multiple female employees at the non-profit.
Dr. John Brothers, a consultant temporarily filling the executive director role at PRAB, declined to discuss Vargas’ departure because of an agreement made with the outgoing leader of the organization.
“There’s an agreement on both sides that we’re not going to talk about it publicly,” Brothers said. “Obviously the organization wishes him well as he moves forward.”
The organization today released a statement saying Vargas left his position on August 5, nearly a month ago.
Established in 1971, PRAB currently describes its mission as “to provide services that improve the quality of life of the low income population of central New Jersey in a bilingual and bicultural setting, and to continue our historic role as advocates for the Latino community.”
In 2007, PRAB merged with the Housing Coalition of Central New Jersey and opened the Middlesex County Family Success Center.
Vargas was hired to lead the organization in 2008, after serving as Director of Operations and Communications for New Brunswick Tomorrow, another city-based non-profit. A 1992 graduate of Rutgers College, Vargas recently received a laudatory write-up in Rutgers magazine for his role in the “renaissance” of New Brunswick.
Our attempts to contact Vargas have been unsuccessful. A person who came to the door at his Freeman Street residence said he no longer lived there.
PRAB President and Middlesex County Freeholder Blanquita Valenti called the transition “an exciting period of change,” in a statement released this afternoon.
“We thank Mario for his service to PRAB over the last several years and wish him great success in his future endeavors,” said Valenti.
“While PRAB works during this leadership transition, Dr. Brothers provides considerable experience in operations, resource development and finance that will undoubtedly facilitate a smooth transition,”
Brothers said he plans to engage in a “pretty public search” and hopes to name a new PRAB Executive Director before the year’s end.
Brothers said his firm, Quidoo Consulting, looks forward to “working with the board and community and staff to determine what kind of leader we want moving forward.”
Vargas will continue to serve on the board of directors of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, according to hosptial spokesman Peter Haigney.
Meanwhile, Governor Christie’s office has not yet responded to an inquiry regarding Vargas’ appointed position on the state government’s Schools Development Authority.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.