Schools

Dr. Casale Cleared of Any Improprieties

•  Ethics Commission Finds No Wrong-Doings With $750,000 Settlement

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Dr. Phil Casale
Cleared of All Charges

 – School Board President Dr. Phil Casale was cleared of any improprieties by the School Ethics Commission of the N.J. Dept. of Education. The commission itself likely won't have any comment or announcement of its decision for another month.

But word of the decision came from several at yesterday's hearing who told NJHometown today that they were informed by their respective attorneys that the ruling was "no violations occurred" in the manner surrounding Dr. Casale's handling of a $750,000 settlement with Tri-Tech Engineering for construction work on town school buildings.

Dr. Casale also affirmed the panel's decision in a telephone call to NJHometown this morning but said he would have no comment other than what then was a statement being prepared by his attorney.

That statement was received this afternoon from Patrick P. Toscano Jr. of the Toscano Law Firm in Caldwell. The statement, in its entirety, reads as follows:

"Statement on behalf of Philip Casale.

"From the inception of the allegations in this matter, it was apparent that the complaints to the School Ethics Commission were politically driven, and void of any legal merit. This position is further fortified by the Board summarily finding that my client violated neither state statute nor an other regulation. At all times Dr. Casale acted within the confines of the law, and for the betterment of the citizens of Nutley. Indeed, all of the testimony evidenced such.

"It is suggested that the time has now come for someone or some entity there in Nutley to investigate those very individuals who filed these frivolous complaints with the State of New Jersey. To allow this devious and venal conduct on their behalf to go unpunished (which conduct they attempted to visit upon my client and ruin his reputation) would be tantamount to sanctioning their opprobrious conduct.

"Dr. Casale is owned a sincere apology from the individuals who filed the ill-advised complaints. If these apologies are not forthcoming, the true political intent of the individuals responsible for same speaks volumes."

The essence of the complaint against Dr. Casale was that he negotiated the $750,000 settlement with Tri-Tech alone, without the participation of other board members or the superintendent of schools. Details of the evidence for and against that complaint will be part of the Ethics Commission's published decision expected late next month.

Word of the Ethics Commission's conclusion was not announced by the commission itself, but through attorneys at the session.

"The Commissioners concluded there were no violations," NJHometown was told.

The formal complaint to the Ethics Commission was filed by four former board members, Marie Alamo, Sal Olivo, Jerry DelTufo, and Dr. Jerry Parisi, and by Jim Kuchta, a current board trustee who, like Dr. Casale, is seeking a new three-year term at this spring's school election.

"We, as well as our attorneys, thought we had a good case," the former board members said.

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