JERSEY CITY, NJ—A notorious developer's yacht set sail from a Hudson County marina as part of a fundraiser for a non-profit organization known as "Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County" on the night of June 10.
On board were Police Directors from the City of New Brunswick, both past and present, as well as other city police officers and executives at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH).
Though the organization has been funded in part by at least two public entities, and works in concert with local law enforcement to help solve crimes, some public officials insist it is a private organization and therefore has no obligation to reveal details of their fundraising.
Real estate developer Jack Morris, whose company Edgewood Properties has built numerous housing and commercial developments across Central NJ, hosted the party on an enormous yacht. He is the Vice President of RWJUH's Board of Trustees.
Morris is also known for being a major donor to the Middlesex County Democratic Organization and a close ally of John Lynch Jr., a powerful politician and convicted felon who once served as the Hub City's Mayor. As we reported, NJSpotlight named Lynch the fifth most corrupt New Jersey politician of all-time.
It was hard to miss the large, overwhelmingly male crowd boarding a CoachUSA bus at the entrance to the Middlesex County Administration building shortly before 5pm on June 10.
But powerful officials were unusually quiet about the Wednesday evening event as they boarded the bus full of political actors.
Among those boarding were New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo, former NBPD Director Michael Beltranena, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital CEO Steven Jones, and a number of city police officers.
Caputo was seen, with the help of another man, carrying a cooler onto the bus.
As Jones prepared to board the bus, New Brunswick Today asked him if he could just tell us what their destination was.
"No, I can't," said Jones.
Beltranena left a job in the New Brunswick Mayor's Office to work for CoachUSA, the company whose bus was transporting the dozens of guests from New Brunswick.
He was also not forthcoming with details about the trip as he boarded the bus, insisting it was not official business.
"Just a bunch of buddies," he said, describing the busload of mostly white men. When asked where they were headed, he told this newspaper, "Wherever we want to go."
CoachUSA's CEO recently joined the Board of Crime Stoppers, according to a press release issued by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO).
However, a spokesperson for the MCPO, the same one who wrote the press release, insists that the Crime Stoppers organization is "not connected" to Prosecutor Andrew Carey.
"It is a private organization and is not connected to the prosecutor's office," said James O'Neill the spokesperson for Carey's office.
"The Crime Stoppers program is funded by private donations and fund raising. NO TAX DOLLARS are involved," reads the middlesextips.com website. But other parts of the website boast of at least $10,000 in public funds having been spent on the cause.
The Prosecutor's Office is listed as sponsors of the CrimeStoppers organization, having contributed $5,000 in public "forfeiture funds," as verified by a document provided in response to an Open Public Records Act request.
Former Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan, who was County Prosectuor at the time of the donation, is now a Superior Court Judge and personally gave $1,000 to Crime Stoppers, according to the website.
Also included on the list were two organizations that work closely together, the New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH).
Kevin McTernan, a high-level official at RWJUH who also chairs the powerful NBPA Board of Commissioners was seen near the bus, but it's not clear if he went on the trip.
Parking Authority Executive Director Mitch Karon confirmed the organization, where Caputo is also a board member, gave $5,000 to Crime Stoppers.
"We gave $5K in 2013," said Karon. "I don’t know of any fundraiser," he added.
A spokesperson for RWJUH did not answer questions about where the fundraiser was held and which officials from the hospital were in attendance. Instead, the hospital only confirmed that it was a "private fundraising event in support of Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County."
For his part, Prosecutor Carey said he did not attend the fundraiser when New Brunswick Today caught up with him.
No one could say how much money was raised. Police Director Anthony Caputo, who appears to be the Chairman of the organization, did not respond to three emailed inquiry.
According to the Crime Stoppers website, the organization began as the result of a collaboration between Caputo, Prosecutor Kaplan, and the Middlesex County Police Chiefs Association.
"The Middlesex County Crime Stoppers Program began in 2011 as a result of the efforts of the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office, retired New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo (Chairman) and the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association," reads the now out-of-date website.
"Our Program now operates as an independent organization."
"Crime Stopper Programs are organized as a not for profit organization (Charity). A civilian community board of directors provides direction as to the financial and promotional activities of the program. The board of directors enhances the community involvement aspect, and its function is vital to the programs success."
Caputo did not respond to a request to name the other board members. There is no list on the organization's website.
Shortly after the new organization was announced, with Caputo at the helm, New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill made the surprising decision to re-hire Caputo to his old job as Police Director, allowing Caputo to collect his pension for his work as police director, while simulataneously earning a salary for the same job.
The donors to the organization are listed below. Morris' company (Edgewood Properties) and a law firm tied to Lynch are the top two donors.
$10,000 Platinum Sponsors
- Edgewood Properties
- Martin, Kane and Kuper LLC and Robert J. Zullo Jr. Esquire
$5,000 Gold Sponsors
- Hyatt Regency New Brunswick
- New Brunswick Parking Authority
- Middlesex County Prosecutors Office
- Johnson & Johnson
- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
$2,500 Silver Sponsors
- IBEW Local #456 International Brotherhood of electrical Workers
- New Brunswick Development Corp. (DEVCO)
- Century 21 Construction
$1,000 Bronze Sponsors
- Kelso and Bradshaw Attorneys at Law
- Middlesex County Association of Chiefs of Police
- Bruce J. Kaplan
- Benedict and Altman
- Middlesex/Somerset County PBA
- Senator Robert Smith
- Turtle and Hughes Electrical Contractors
- FOLEY Inc.
- Friends of Mayor Jim Cahill
- New Brunswick Policeman`s Benevolent Association Local 23
- North Brunswick Policeman`s Benevolent Accociation Local 160
- Malouf Auto Group
- BIER ASSOCIATES
- JAMES AND TANJA ZULLO
- OLD BRIDGE PBA LOCAL 127