NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Ronald Bellafronte, a longtime New Brunswick housing inspector who was suspended without pay since March 5, will return to work.
City officials said they sought Bellafronte’s termination after he was overheard using a racial slur to describe an African-American who serves as an Assistant City Attorney.
After nearly two months without pay, a mystery hearing officer hired by the city issued the decision on April 29, suspending Bellafronte instead of terminating him, according to Mayor James Cahill’s spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw.
But the city did not receive the decision until May 5 and Bradshaw only revealed the verdict to the public today.
Bradshaw declined to say how long his suspension would last, or even identify the city-funded hearing officer who made the decision to keep Bellafronte on the payroll.
“I can’t comment on the specifics of the suspension. I can tell you that the decision was made by a hearing officer hired by the City,” Bradshaw said.
Bellafronte makes a $41,225 annual salary and has been a housing inspector since 2003.
His longtime boss Michael Mahony was suspended without pay in December after being arrested by State Police with a “distribution quantity” of cocaine in his city vehicle.
The Cahill administration had taken an even stronger position against Bellafronte than they did Mahony after the accusations surfaced against them.
Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin, the highest-paid city employee, spoke harshly about what he called the “Ronald Bellafronte-Charly Gayden matter” at the March 5 City Council meeting, but only after he was asked about it by activist Tormel Pittman.
“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 Loughlin.
No word on when Bellafronte will return to work.
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.