NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A close ally of Mayor James Cahill and Police Director Anthony Caputo is working at the NBPD for the second time in his career, after more than ten years on the Trenton Police force.
Anthony Barber has apparently left his spot on the powerful, five-member New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) Board of Commissioners in order to take a civilian job with the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).
It would have been against the city's Code of Ethics for Barber to take a job with the NBPA for the first year after leaving the NBPA board, but the same is not true of a city job.
Barber's wife Claribel Azcona-Barber is an aide to Cahill, and also serves on the city's Planning and Ethics Boards.
Anthony Barber was also widely considered a political hire during his time with Trenton PD, where he was assigned to be one of two personal drivers for longtime Mayor Doug Palmer, after supporting Palmer's re-election campaign financially in 2006.
Barber was close with Trenton's former Police Director Joseph Santiago. Both were criticized after it was revealed Barber had been given an unmarked "take-home" police vehicle while he was assigned to be the mayor's driver.
Barber's new $49,000 full-time "office supervisor" job at the NBPD headquarters represents a pay cut for him, but it's not immediately clear if he has started collecting his public pension.
Barber has been a police officer in one of the two cities since 1989, according to pension records.
According to APP.com's DataUniverse, Barber was paid $80,153 in his last year with Trenton PD. A person who answered the phone at the Trenton Police Department (TPD) said he left the department on February 1.
A spokesperson for the TPD did not respond to questions about whether Barber had left on good or bad terms.
Barber, and specifically the perks he received like a take-home vehicle, had been the target of criticism on CaptSleepy.com, a website critical of the TPD's leadership circa 2007:
…some immediate perks Barber received were a 3% pay raise and a take home car. All this was on top of his generous starting salary given to him from Santiago.
After about a year in Vice Barber was transferred to the TAC unit, where he remained for only a few months. After that short stint he was transferred again, this time to city hall to coordinate the Safer Cities program under the watchful eye of Santiago friend -and alleged gang expert- Bartholomew Colicelli. While it hasn't been confirmed, it was reported that Barber had a take home car in that position too. After about a year in the Safer Cities program, and with less than 4 years on the job, Barber is now the driver for Mayor Palmer…
If a long time employee who paid his or her dues through years of quality service and dedication was to receive a perk like this man did, then most of us would likely agree he deserved it? But when a new person arrives and has no connection to the city or the department and gets this special treatment, then there has to be some red flags going up in peoples minds?…
The man comes to TPD and immediately gets a raise, a car and premier assignments without paying his dues by working the street.
At least four other officers transferred from different departments before and after his arrival, all with police experience and not known to the criminal element, yet they were put right into patrol.
None of them received a raise, car or sweetheart assignments like Barber.
And finally, Anthony Barber donated at least $900 to Palmer's 2006 reelection campaign…
As the second of two drivers for Mayor Palmer, Barber has an unmarked TPD police car assigned to him to take home…. For the life of me I can't understand why he would need a take home car when all he does is drive the mayor around. Why can't he drive his personal car to the city, pick up the mayor and the car, drive the mayor around, and then at the end of his tour of duty leave the city car behind and get back into his personal car and drive back home?
I just don't get it. Why does Barber have a city car to use at his disposal for personal business 24/7/365?
New Brunswick Today first learned of Barber's re-hiring by the NBPD the day after the City Council voted to replace him on the NBPA Board.
The next day, NBPA Executive Director Mitch Karon told us Barber got a job with the city.
"I'm not sure what he's doing, but yeah." Karon said. "So evidently since he's an employee he can't sit on our board."
Just minutes later, Barber emerged from police headquarters, where New Brunswick Today congratulated him on the new position. But Barber refused to answer any questions about the new job.
"We'll catch up at another time, okay?" was all Barber would say as NBT asked him for his job title, whether he was a city employee, who hired him, or if he was a police or a civlian employee.
Even though he had been on the city payroll for weeks, a spokesperson for Mayor Cahill did not immediately know if Barber was an employee of the city when questioned that same day. Later, she confirmed Barber was a new hire.
"I am told that Tony Barber's hire date was May 18, he is working as an office supervisor with the police department," said Jennifer Bradshaw, the spokesperson.
According to records provided by the city, as of January 1, the city only had two "office supervisors" and neither worked in the police department. In prior years, Scott Bannier served as NBPD office supervisor, earning an annual salary of $41,820.
More than three weeks into Barber's new position, City Hall remains silent on other questions such as whether the position was advertised or not, and if Barber is collecting a pension.
Based on the official timeline, Barber was out of work for almost four months. NBPD recently ran afoul of pension rules and regulations when it quickly re-hired two former cops to civilian jobs last year.
IRS rules stated that for a retirement to be considered legitimate, an employer could not re-hire one of its own for at least six months.
If Barber is indeed collecting a pension and a public salary, he would join Cahill, Caputo, and a slew of other public officials known as "double dippers," those who collect two or more public paychecks on the regular.
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 was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.