NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Police reports obtained by New Brunswick Today revealed the strange circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of former Water Director Shawn Maloney.
Maloney’s body was found by Distribution Division Supervisor Willie Weaver shortly after his death from a gunshot wound on February 9, 2007.
The suicide comes under renewed scrutiny in the wake of an abrupt privatization deal to hand over day-to-day operations at the Water Utility to American Water, a move quietly made by Mayor James Cahill earlier this month.
According to the documents, a suicide note was found on Maloney’s person. Before his death, he received some bad news and then repeatedly asked about a co-worker before leaving bullets in the man’s truck.
The incident came just over an hour after he had met with city officials including Mayor Cahill to discuss a federal investigation that had recently subpoenaed documents related to Maloney’s work.
At the time, the 42-year-old Water Director was also suffering from cancer, according to the “case narrative.” In addition to his paying job, Maloney served as Chairman of the city’s powerful Planning Board, and was a political campaign manager for Cahill, who called him a “dear friend.”
The first police officer to arrive was Officer Jose Otero, Jr, according to the report.
Authorities ruled Maloney a suicide and an autopsy confirmed the cause of death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The documents claim that there was a suicide note found on Maloney’s person found by medical personnel but no details are given about its contents.
At the time, Police Director Joe Catanese told the New York Times that the note was “very personal.”
“I don’t want to say anything about it.”
The “case narrative” also adds a new facet to the story, that has not been explained.
Weaver, a popular Democratic Committeeman and longtime employee of the Water Utility, located Maloney’s body and may have been the last person to speak to Maloney.
He promptly called authorities, and New Brunswick Detective Mark Kosko allegedly recovered two rounds of live ammunition in Weaver’s vehicle.
According to the reports, security camera videos show Maloney may have left behind ammunition in Weaver’s vehicle for reasons unknown.
“Mr. Maloney opened the passenger side door of his vehicle, then briefly got into Mr. Weaver’s city-owned vehicle, then returned to his own vehicle,” wrote Sgt. Anthony Starzynski, who had watched security camera footage of the suicide.
Starzynski, still on the force today, noted in his report that “two live 38 caliber rounds were recovered in Mr. Weaver’s city owned vehicle by Det. M.Kosko.”
According to the reports, Maloney had previously asked Weaver on the phone if he would be “at the shop.” Weaver allegedly responded in the affirmative, and asked why.
“WILLIE WEAVER, STATED SHAWN MALONEY TOLD HIM BECAUSE I NEED TO SPEAK TO YOU,” reads the report.
For the next five years, the city did not have a qualified Water Director, as Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin filled in for Maloney.
During this time period, the state government accused the city of falsifying reports to cover up problems with water quality and the city admitted to violating the law.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Loughlin’s successor as Water Director, Frank Marascia, had resigned, prompting Mayor Cahill to nominate himself to be the Interim Water Director.
The investigation into Maloney ended up with convictions of four city employees, including a housing inspector who was later found guilty of trying to have his wife killed from behind bars.
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.