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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Andrew Carey was not happy to run into a reporter, especially this one, on June 16.
Armed with a digital camera, New Brunswick Today was actively recording Carey’s walk down College Avenue to his illegally-parked, county-owned sport utility vehicle.
This reporter asked the county’s top law enforcement officer (LEO) if he had any response to NBToday’s coverage of his own financial disclosure forms.
As we reported in May, Carey appeared to commit repeated ethics violations by leaving out the specifics of his wife’s employment at a politcally-connected law firm: DiFrancesco Bateman Kunzman Davis Lehrer & Flaum.
Carey had disregarded instructions to provide the name and address of his spouses sources of income above $2,000, referring to her employer only as “Law firm” and listing the address as “New Jersey.”
He also signed a certification on the form, that said it did not include any “material omissions.”
“I’m not saying anything to you, so call [Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) spokesman] Jim O’Neill,” the tight-lipped prosecutor responded.
This reporter then asked Carey directly if he believed he was in compliance with the Local Government Ethics Law.
“No comment,” was the last thing he had to say.
Carey stayed silent as NBToday asked him about his illegal parking, and if he had any update on the police killing of Diahlo Grant, which occurred on April 9 in New Brunswick and has sparked protests demanding answers.
In the three months since the killing, published reports indicated that Grant’s unidentified killers had returned to active duty at the Franklin Township Police Department.
Carey briskly walked towards his county-owned vehicle, which was parked illegally on the same block where the presidential campaign of the man who nominated him to his position, Chris Christie, had commandeered a number of metered parking spaces without paying for them.
As this reporter recorded Carey preparing to get into his unmarked vehicle, parked in the yellow curb area on Senior Street, Carey summoned backup from three North Brunswick Police Department officers in the area.
Carey signaled for help and then pointed three North Brunswick officers towards this reporter.
“I don’t like that look,” said one of the officers as they approached, referring to the look on Carey’s face.
They weren’t the only cops walking down College Avenue, where a unique variety of illegally-parked police vehicles occupied nearly every street corner and fire zone on College Avenue and its side streets.
Both a university-sponsored police training drill—which mistakenly fooled many students into thinking there was an actual “active shooter” in the school’s main library—and an awards breakfast organized by Mother Against Drunk Driving had transformed College Ave., usually packed with young New Jerseyans, into an alternate reality dominated by LEO’s from across the state.
Ultimately, the tense situation ended without incident, as the North Brunswick officers protected Carey from further questioning by chatting with him as he hopped into his county-owned vehicle, and ran over a curb on his way out.
When we asked North Brunswick Deputy Chief Joseph Battaglia what Carey was talking to him about, Battaglia told this reporter: “None of your business.”
While Carey has made a name for himself by arresting and prosecuting a number of police officers and public workers, and prosecuting at least one high-profile “cold case,” his administration has also been highly secretive.
Since his office took over the investigation into the killing of Diahlo Grant, the MCPO only issued one 11-sentence statement the morning after Grant died during “an exchange of gunfire.”
The statement mentioned that Grant was wanted for a probation violation and non-payment of child support, but did not identify the officers who killed him, or say why police tried to stop him, why they chased him across the county line into New Brunswick, how many times he was shot, or who shot first.
Carey has also requested that the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders not identify the names of which MCPO staff members attend training seminars and conferences, even after the fact.
The MCPO has also stubbornly refused to send NBT their press releases ever since we published an article about a former Sheriff’s Officer who had been charged in a cocaine bust by NJ State Police, but appeared to be getting special treatment from the MCPO and local authories.
It marked the second time that the MCPO, under Carey’s leadership, vindictively removed this newspaper from their media list because of our hard-hitting coverage.
The author of this article successfully sued the Prosectuor’s Office earlier this year after they refused to release the full investigation reports from a May 2014 crash involving the New Brunswick Fire Director.
On May 23 of this year, more than two years after the crash that left three children seriously injured, the Middlesex County Counsel finally produced 15 pages that the MCPO had originally contended were “exempt from disclosure to the public.”
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.