NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On March 5, New Brunswick housing inspector Ronald Bellafronte was suspended without pay for allegedly using a racial slur to refer to Assistant City Attorney Charly Gayden.
Bellafronte joined Chief Housing Inspector Mike Mahoney and former water treatment plant operator Edward O’Rourke as the latest city employee suspended without pay.
“The conduct that Mr. Bellafronte is alleged to have participated is hurtful and it’s ignorant and it’s not tolerated by this administration. And he was suspended without pay today,” said Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin, after activist Tormel Pittman brought up Bellafronte’s alleged behavior at a City Council meeting.
“And, should the charges that we have put forward against him be upheld, he’s facing termination.”
Bellafronte was hired as a housing inspector in September 2003 and made a salary of $41,225.
Bellafronte’s former boss Michael Mahony was suspended after being arrested and charged by State Police with distributing cocaine on the job in late December.
Mahony was first hired in 1993 and made a $54,066 annual salary at the time of his arrest, when caught driving his city-owned vehicle near his home in Milltown with a “distribution quantity” of cocaine.
The operation also snagged a laborer at the North Brunswick Department of Public Works and a Middlesex County Sheriff’s Dispatcher.
One month earlier, the state announced they had fined and suspended the license of New Brunswick’s water treatment plant operator, Edward O’Rourke.
Although the state said he had purposefully lied about the quality of the water in reports, he has not yet been charged criminally.
A veteran city employee on the payroll since 1976, O’Rourke made a $78, 893 salary.
He was quietly suspended with pay on October 21. Two weeks later, as the coverup scandal was about to break, his pay was stopped.
According to new city spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw, Mahony’s and O’Rourke’s administrative hearings have not yet been scheduled. They remain suspended without pay.
The Attorney General’s Office confirmed last week the case against Mahony was still moving forward, but that an indictment had not yet been handed down.
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, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.